Illegal immigration risks on Latvia-Belarus border rise

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As the summer approaches, the risks of illegal immigration on the border with Belarus are likely to increase, the head of the State Border Guard Guntis Pujāts told LETA on April 24.

The number of offenders is high every day and the intensity on the Polish-Belarusian border is even higher, with an average of around 80 illegal immigrants per day. “Latvia is in the middle, because [the situation in] Lithuania is calmer. We are still in a tense situation,” Pujāts said.

Pujat believes that risks are likely to rise as summer approaches because in warmer weather people can stay outside longer and the border is easier to cross. "The floods had prevented illegal crossing of the border. It's getting drier and it's easier to move in many places,” said Pujāts.

In some cases, the border guard allows minors, people with health problems, and pregnant women to cross the border for humanitarian reasons.

The State Border Guard has also observed that representatives of the Belarusian services are damaging the infrastructure of the Latvian border. “Damaging the permanent fence. Cutting and breaking [it]. The Belarusian services continue to ensure [the arrival of illegal immigrants in Latvia] and damage Latvia's infrastructure in order to push illegals into Latvia,” Pujāts said.

Asked how the Latvian Border Guard responded to such activities, Pujāts replied that the Latvian Border Guard did not violate the Belarus border and did not destroy the border infrastructure of this country. “If we manage to catch them in Latvia red-handed, we will certainly detain them,” Pujāts said.

Due to the pressure of illegal immigration, a state of emergency in Ludza and Krāslava municipalities and Daugavpils was announced on August 10, 2021 and has been extended on several occasions since then. It is currently set until May 10.

This year, 1,842 people have been prevented from crossing the border of Latvia-Belarus, while 137 people have been admitted for humanitarian reasons, the State Border Guard told LETA.

Last year a total of 5,286 people were prevented from illegally crossing the border of Latvia-Belarus, while 217 people were admitted for humanitarian reasons.

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