EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis has slammed discussions in Lithuania about selection criteria for refugee resettlement. According to Andriukaitis, who was Lithuania's healthcare minister before taking the job with the EU Commission, said that selections among people in the face of the current humanitarian crisis would be immoral and go against everything Europe holds as principles.
Vytenis Andriukaitis
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

Lithuania has committed itself to resettling over a thousand refugees from Syria and Iraq. The country's officials have made statements about how the asylum seekers will be selected for resettlement in Lithuania.

Asked about what selection criteria Lithuania should use by the host of the LRT TV programme Dėmesio Centre (In Focus), Andriukaitis categorically rejected the premise of the question:

"First of all, I cannot understand how one could do any selection. Refugees are people who need help at once, here and now. It would be hard to see a person drowning and to do any selection - I will save this one, but not that one. Even this discussion goes against the basic norms of the European Union that recognizes universal human rights. I cannot even comment on this."

He added that the EU has already decided to give priority to children, pregnant women, old and infirm people. Otherwise, legitimate refugees fleeing war in Syria will be resettled irrespectively of their qualities, Andriukaitis has insisted.

"There can be no sorting according to either religion, skin colour or anything else. This would amount to classification of people. What are we talking about? There were regimes that classified people, but it goes against EU values."

Andriukaitis has also rejected fears that refugees could spread infections in Europe.

"We must first reassure the public in Lithuania and all EU countries, because the epidemiological situation among the refugees is minutely studied everywhere they come from. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm monitors the situation and you can go to their website and see daily updates on the epidemiological situation," Andriukaitis said. "The risk of infectious diseases is very very low."

He adds that migrants receive vaccinations in hot spots where they are registered upon arrival in Europe.

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