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Lithuania deports Nigerian asylum seekers as right group kicks

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On Wednesday morning, a plane to Nigeria took off from Vilnius, carrying a group of seven migrants who had been denied asylum in Lithuania. Activists argue that the deportation was illegal, as the asylum seekers were not given the chance to appeal the decision. According to the authorities, however, everything was done by the book, even though one person was allowed to remain in the country at the last moment.

According to the group, the asylum seekers’ detailed applications were processed very quickly, within a few days, and the decisions were translated to them by phone just before the flight. In Nigeria, they face prosecution and possible death, the group said.

“Tonight, asylum seekers will be put on a plane for deportation,” the NGO Sienos Grupė (Border Group), which provides assistance to migrants, posted on Facebook on Tuesday night.

“The Migration Department does not hear people, does not read the law. Nor does Lithuania care about international obligations,” Sienos Grupė said.

When one of the asylum seekers was contacted as his deportation loomed, he said he was not sure if he could be deported since he was allowed to appeal his case in seven days, not knowing he was booked already for a flight to Nigeria.

He said he was facing the risk of deportation since Boko Haram killed his parents.

Lithuania is one of the few countries in Europe with one of the strictest immigration laws, and the country as well as Poland have been accused of bias when it comes to the treatment of migrants from Africa and the Middle East while Ukrainian refugees were welcome with open hand when Russia launched a full scale invasion of the country in February, 2022.

“Seven Nigerian citizens were deported las night [early hours of Wednesday],” confirmed VSAT deputy head Rimantas Petrauskas, adding that a total of 50 migrants have been sent from Lithuania this year.

According to Evelina Gudzinskaitė, head of the Migration Department, the deportation was within the law and organised by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX.

“They [Nigerian asylum seekers] had submitted a repeated asylum application, it was processed as a matter of urgency and a decision made that it was unsubstantiated,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

The Nigerians will be able to appeal against the decision of the Lithuanian authorities in Nigeria, she added.

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