Latvia-Belarus border situation tense again

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The situation on the Latvian–Belarusian border has escalated again, and as of August, the number of illegal migrants has reached the level of March this year, Latvian Radio reported on August 26.

Jurijs Vlasovs, chief executive of the State Border Guard Daugavpils, said he is afraid that an even bigger influx of illegal migrants is expected.

“In August, tensions began to rise on the border regarding attempts to enter the Republic of Latvia illegally from Belarus. Currently, 285 people have tried to cross the border illegally. On average, they are 12-15 people a day. On August 2 and 3 there were several groups of 25 people who tried to cross the Latvian border illegally at the same time,” Vlasovs said.

In the context of a possible re-organised hybrid attack by the Belarusian regime, as well as Belarus's support for Russia's war in Ukraine, in early August, the Cabinet supported the extension of the emergency on the border. Vlasovs said police officers had gone to help the border guards.

“Assistance from the National Armed Forces was also requested, but unfortunately they cannot provide support because they have their own activities,” the Border Guard spokesman added.

The border of Latvia needs a comprehensive approach to strengthen the possibilities of responding to such attacks, as well as controlling migration flows in general, said Interior Ministry's Deputy Secretary of State Kaspars Āboliņš.

The current situation shows that border guards must be prepared for hybrid attacks from both Russia and Belarus. Vlasovs also agreed on the need for strengthening the capacity of border guards, including the expansion of the Daugavpils housing center for detained foreigners, where 35 people are currently located.

"When there is tension in the situation, when the number of illegal immigrants is increasing dramatically, then our center cannot take such a number. 84 detained persons may stay in the center at the same time. We use even the second floor of the State Police isolator, but it is a temporary solution," said Vlasovs.

The projects currently evaluated and prepared by the Interior Ministry regarding the extension of the Daugavpils centre of detained foreigners and the adaptation of migrant facilities in the Ludza administration of the State Border Guard, as well as the construction of the temporary reception center for migrants, have been submitted to the European Commission in order to receive funding for the implementation of these projects.

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