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Refugee attitudes - Lithuania

Lithuania is a #Baltic state sharing borders with #Belarus in the #EU. It is increasingly faced with anti-refugee sentiments due to the instigation from the political bureaucracy.

According to Dainius Zalimas, a law professor and a former president of Lithuania's Constitutional Court, there is an atmosphere of hostility towards migrants and this dehumanisation of migrants harms the social institution. Unfortunately, the professor used the term ‘#migrant’ and not ‘#refugee’ which raises a pertinent issue over the use of the right legal terminology in Lithuania.

A better understanding of social perception of refugees can be understood from a study conducted on Lithuanian citizens in 2015. Results revealed that the citizens' attitude was negative towards refugees when considered in terms of a security threat (incl. economic stability, cultural and religious differences). The host citizens perceive a threat concerning changing their identity and lifestyle thereby resulting in negative attitudes.

Lithuanian citizens also tend to have a negative opinion of refugees arriving from Belarus and they are not even considered as refugees but migrants. It is because the government of Lithuania has constantly accused #Belarus of directing incoming ‘migrants’ to its borders and it has tried to push back the ‘illegal migrants’ back to Belarus despite the numbers of Belarusians doubled in the last 6 months that forced the government to proclaim a state of emergency to deal with this situation. It is crucial to understand that frequent use of emergency powers deprive the citizens of the right to information which in return restricts them from forming a right opinion on the current crisis. .

Nevertheless, the government’s stand on refugees is unwelcoming and in violation of the EU and International Law.

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