Our teams provided basic healthcare and mental health support to migrants and asylum seekers who have crossed the border from Belarus, and who have usually been subjected to violence and abuse.
Our activities in Lithuania and Latvia in 2022
Data and information from the International Activity Report 2022.
MSF started offering medical and humanitarian support in Lithuania in September 2021, with the aim of offering medical and humanitarian support to migrants and asylum seekers crossing into the country from Belarus. Initially, our teams provided mental health care at nine border posts, where migrants and asylum seekers — from countries including Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Cameroon, Nigeria and Afghanistan — were detained in dire conditions.
In January 2022, our teams started to conduct basic medical and mental health consultations for people who had been transferred to Foreigners’ Registration Centres (FRCs) in Kybartai and Medininkai. Many were experiencing distress related to detention and limited freedom of movement, as well as uncertainty about their future and the asylum process.
On 6 May, we suspended activities in the two FRCs, as conditions imposed on MSF by the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service created an environment that would have compromised medical ethics and humanitarian principles, and ultimately the quality of care.
After that date, we offered remote psychological support to detained people who asked us for assistance, and ran informal group sessions outside the FRCs for people who had limited freedom of movement. By December, however, continuous pushbacks at the border meant that fewer people were able to enter the country and the FRCs were nearly empty. This significantly limited MSF’s ability to reach those in need.
From July to December, MSF assisted migrants and asylum seekers held in the Mucenieki and Daugavpils immigration detention centres in neighbouring Latvia. In addition to psychological and psychosocial support, our teams provided hygiene kits, food, items such as books, board games and stationery, and some financial aid. However, since our teams were not granted unrestricted access to patients, it was difficult to deliver care that ensured medical confidentiality and compliance with medical ethics, and we therefore closed our activities in Latvia and Lithuania in December.