Ireland condemns the regime of Alexander Lukashenko for its exploitation of migrants for political purposes.
At the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, EU foreign ministers discussed the escalation in the crisis along the EU's borders with Belarus. We agreed to broaden the listings criteria for sanctions on the Belarusian regime.
This broader listing will target individuals and entities organising or contributing to activities by the Lukashenko regime that facilitate illegal crossing of the EU's external borders.
Ireland also supports EU outreach to countries of origin to stem the flow of migrants to Belarus, by communicating the considerable risks and dangers associated with facilitating irregular migration.
I am hopeful that in the coming weeks the EU's continuing engagement will result in a diminishing flow of migrants to Belarus, which is an organised flow by the Belarusian regime.
While the current humanitarian crisis has been orchestrated by the Belarusian regime, it is important that member states respect and uphold the right to international protection in line with obligations under the Geneva Conventions. Ireland has expressed its support for the deployment of experts from Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, to the border region. I also believe that international organisations, aid workers and independent monitors and journalists should be allowed to access both sides of the border.
Ireland has repeatedly demonstrated our solidarity with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, and with those trapped at the border. Just three weeks ago, the Minister of State, Deputy Thomas Byrne, visited the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, accompanied by members of the Lithuanian Government. As part of that visit, he viewed some migrant camps that have been established by the Lithuanian Government, met with the Lithuanian border guards and also with the Lithuanian Red Cross, which, this year, has received a contribution of €100,000 from Irish Aid to help provide relief to the migrants.
What is happening here is orchestrated. Migrants in a vulnerable position are being deliberately shipped and bused to the borders of the EU in an extremely cynical and dangerous way. People have lost their lives. The response from the EU has to be twofold.