470 people have requested asylum in Latvia this year

This year, 470 people have requested asylum in Latvia, the head of the Office for Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP), Maira Roze, said in an interview to Latvian Radio September 2.

Roze said she 'didn't have precise data' but about 300 of asylum seekers had crossed the border illegally. Asylum seekers also include people from Belarus, as well as evacuated people from Afghanistan.

According to Roze, all those who illegally cross the border from Belarus end up requesting asylum. Requests shall be examined individually, which can take up to three months. The whole process can take six to eight months.

There are currently 340 people at the asylum-seeker accommodation center Mucenieki. It has a capacity of 450 but it cannot all be filled given the Covid-19 requirements and separation of women and men. The Ministry of Interior has also found the possibility of housing people in a building in Dzintari, Jūrmala. There are currently 31 people, 15 of whom have already been granted status but have not yet found a place of residence. 

Regarding citizens of Belarus, the head of the PMLP said that since August 1 last year, 70 people had asked for asylum and most were granted it. 31 persons have been granted refugee status and 15 persons have alternative status. Some have been directed to other countries, some were also refused asylum if there were no grounds for granting it.

Roze said there was an urgent need to figure out how to proceed in a situation where Mucenieki center's capacity is rapidly being exhausted. “There needs to be an algorithm what happens if there are more [people], what resources are needed on which days,” the head of the PMLP said. 

According to PLMP's website, last year, 147 people requested asylum in Latvia.

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