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Almost 100 Irregular Migrants Left Lithuania for Iraq

Date

2022 01 03

Rating
2
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On 2 January, 98 Iraqi citizens left Lithuania for Iraq on a charter flight, volunteering to return to their homeland. This is the first charter flight from Lithuania to return people who crossed the Lithuanian border illegally to their country of origin because they have not been granted asylum.

"Since the beginning of the migration crisis, we have been working very closely with our partners in the European Union (EU), maintaining regular contacts with the Iraqi Government and we appreciate its constructive cooperation in issuing documents to Iraqi citizens wishing to return. These people have fallen for the deception of the undemocratic regime in Belarus. We understand that the flow of irregular migration can resume at any time, so together with our partners in the EU, we are making every effort to close the path of irregular migration to Europe," said Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

"We have managed to halt irregular migration, and foreigners who have entered Lithuania and the EU illegally must be returned to their countries of origin. We must do all we can to encourage migrants to return voluntarily. The decision to triple the state payout for returning migrants has paid off and we can see the result already”, said the Minister of the Interior Agnė Bilotaitė.

The plane that took off from Vilnius International Airport flew Iraqis to Baghdad and Erbil. Many of them have recently been accommodated in the Foreigners' Registration Centres in Pabradė and Kybartai, as well as in Medininkai and the Refugee Reception Centre in Rukla. During the flight to Iraq migrants were accompanied by officers of the State Border Guard Service and interpreters. The flight was organised and coordinated by the State Border Guard Service.

Lithuania is actively working with the Government of Iraq, as its citizens make up the majority of irregular migrants to Lithuania. Four Iraqi consular missions to Lithuania have already been completed, during which the consuls helped Iraqis wishing to return to arrange travel documents.

All those who volunteered to leave Lithuania received a one-time payout of 1,000 euros. The decision on the 1,000 euro support benefit will be valid until 20 January 2022 and will apply only to irregular migrants currently staying in Lithuania. Most of these payouts are financed from the European Commission's assistance to Lithuania for managing the migration crisis. Maintaining one migrant costs Lithuania 11,000 euros per year.

537 migrants have already returned to their countries of origin from Lithuania, 482 of whom did so voluntarily. There are currently 3,166 foreigners living in the five Foreigners' Registration Centres.