Tension on Latvia-Belarus border remains high, says Border Guard chief

Although the number of illegal migrants who have tried to enter Latvia from Belarus has decreased in recent days, tensions and risks in the border area of Belarus remain at constantly high levels, Guntis Pujāts, Chief of State Border Guard, told Latvian Television August 23.

 Despite the efforts of border guards to keep migrants out of Latvia, they continue to stay close to the border, Pujāts said: “We are taking deterrence measures, they are not leaving the border. They are in the immediate vicinity of the border, or even on the line.”

Pujāts said that border guards were prepared that the situation could change at any time and the number of offences could increase.  If necessary, Latvia will not refuse assistance to the migrants. 25 individuals from different groups of migrants have been admitted to Latvia because of risks to their health.

Pujāts also said that the majority of migrants with whom border guards have communicated had expressed their desire to return to their country of residence, but the Belarusian authorities did not allow it. Border guards have also found that some of the migrants have arrived in Belarus through Moscow and have later travelled to cross the border of Latvia.

Pujāts said that the Belarusian regime is pushing migrants to travel to Latvia to make a profit of a kind: “It is a criminal business of its kind to lure all happiness seekers here and make money. [..] If we now open our borders, it means that thousands of happiness seekers will try to enter Latvia to go further to other countries of the European Union,” Pujāts said.

At the end of September or early October, it was planned to equip 37 kilometers of the border between Latvia and Belarus with the first fence. The total length of the border between the two countries is 172 kilometres, but it also goes across lakes and rivers.

The Chief of the Border Guard potentially sees risks that similar situations can also arise on the border of Latvia-Russia.

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