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Latvian Border Guard prepares for migrant influx from Belarus

Looking with concern at the increasing flow of migrants from Belarus in Lithuania, the Latvian State Border Guard on Tuesday asked for additional employees from the National Guard. The weak spots of the borderline are also recognized in the immediate vicinity, Latvian Television reported July 7.

The 173-kilometer long borderline of Latvia–Belarus shall be checked at least once a day by walking along it.

Egons Mežaks, deputy chief of the Kaplava border guarding department of the State Border Guard, said: “There is a footpath of control, but in marshy areas, because of terrain, we cannot install it. So its sites are more equipped with presence detection systems and patrols with canines are sent more frequently.”

Help from the local population may prove to be essential. For example, when reporting someone unfamiliar seen in the neighborhood, suspicious people or cars. Soon 50 national guardsmen will also be deployed to help. Deputy Chief of State Border Guard Ivars Ruskulis said: “It is nothing new for the border guard. This cooperation has already been sufficiently effective. One assignment consists of both a border guard and a national guardsman, the leading officer of course is a border guard official.”

In addition, 24 Frontex border guards have been requested, eight are currently working. But human resources would not be needed as much if there were better engineering and more orderly infrastructure.

Mežaks said: “We plan to increase our technical equipment, like quadricycles. It is planned to increase the number of sensors, purchase additional ones. Everything is in the process, we are waiting for the delivery.”

The government supports the development of a new system, similar to Lithuania, along the entire border of Latvia, and is expected to fully modernize the car fleet in the next two years. A fence promised five years ago would also benefit, as it would be equipped with presence reception systems, cameras. The fence is now only on the Latvian-Russian border.

This year, few illegal border crossers have been detained in the border area. At the beginning of June, four Iraqi nationals were detained on the side of Piedruja. They were then taken to the accommodation center for detained foreigners in Daugavpils.

Artūrs Garevičs-Jurevičs, chief executive of the Center, said: “This is a mixed-type center, houses both asylum seekers and detained foreigners, known as “illegals” colloquially.  My center is up to 10% [full], a precise number I won't recall. We're ready. We have contracts with both the suppliers of catering products and the translation office.”

Detained foreigners are distinguished from asylum seekers in the center, with different rights applying. Whether and when the wave of illegal migrants reaches Latvia was not predicted by the State Border Guard, but they say that risks have been identified since the end of May.

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