(Source: European Asylum Support Office)
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) could deploy up to 50 personnel, both in-country and via remote working, in support of the Lithuanian asylum authorities by the end of the year.
The Executive Director of EASO, Nina Gregori, and the Minister of the Interior of Lithuania, Agnė Bilotaitė, have signed an Operating Plan on the margins of the Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting held in Brdo, Slovenia.
The Operating Plan was agreed to in a record short period following the request of the Lithuanian Authorities in late June. Within days of receiving the request, EASO deployed an assessment team to the country in order to discuss the needs of the Lithuanian counterparts. The Operating Plan, which is EASO’s sixth ongoing operation, is valid until the end of 2021, but can be renewed or adapted to developing needs thereafter.
Commenting on the new operation, Nina Gregori stated: “The speed with which we were able to operationalise our support is a testament to the resilience of the Agency in tangibly supporting any Member State whenever the need arises. EASO stands fully with Lithuania in light of the current migration challenges and we will immediately begin assisting both the asylum and reception systems. This is another demonstration of what EU solidarity actually means.”
Lithuania has recently begun experiencing a dramatic increase in asylum applications from migrants crossing the border from Belarus. To date, the majority of applicants are Iraqi nationals. EASO will work closely with the national authorities, as well as the European Commission and FRONTEX in order to ensure a seamless and coordinated approach.
In particular, EASO will provide operational support in the three following areas:
- Enhancing the capacity to register applications for international protection;
- Enhancing the capacity to process asylum applications, including by conducting interviews and drafting opinions; and
- Enhancing the capacity to manage the reception of applicants.
EASO will immediately begin deploying personnel, both in-country and working remotely, and who could reach a complement of up to 50 by the end of the year.