Lithuania begins building barrier on border with Belarus

Lithuania begins building barrier on border with Belarus

Lithuania began building a barrier along its border with Belarus on Friday after accusing Belarusian authorities of flying in migrants from abroad to send illegally into the European Union.

The first stretch of barrier will run 500 metres in length, measure 1.8 metres in height and consist of concertina and razor wire, the army defence chief's spokeswoman Ruta Montvile told Reuters.

Belarus in May decided to allow migrants to enter EU member Lithuania in retaliation for sanctions imposed by the bloc after Minsk forced a Ryanair flight to land on its soil and arrested a dissident blogger who was on board, Reuters reported.

Lithuania announced on Wednesday it would put up the frontier barrier and deploy troops to prevent migrants crossing illegally into its territory. The 679 km border Lithuanian-Belarus border runs over sparsely populated areas, with large stretches going through forests and marches. Just over 1,500 people crossed the frontier this year, with 900 of them coming over the first nine days of July.

About 78 km of the border was fenced in preceeding years, and about 258 km are monitored electronically, according to Interior Ministry.

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