Border Guard lack money to reinforce eastern border

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Even though the Latvian government has supported a plan to reinforce Latvia's eastern border, so far only €9m of the required €21m have been allotted to strengthening the border with Russia against illegal entry, Border Guard Chief Normunds Garbars said in an interview with Latvian Radio Monday.

The money is necessary to reinforce the border between Latvia and Russia. A fence is being built on parts of the border, with Garbars claiming that a total of 11 km of the border were reinforced adequately last year and a further 25 km projected to be finished this year.

"We are waiting on a government decision when they'll be making the budget.

As of today we have been allotted €9m for reinforcing the border. The total costs for the Russian border alone are €21m," said Garbars.

Furthermore, he claimed claimed that funds are scarce for bolstering up the border between Belarus and Latvia too and urged Latvia not to fall behind its neighbors in carrying out the plans.

"I know that the Estonian Border Guard have already announced a tender this year, and a project has been launched to start making a border," he said, adding that similar plans are underway in Lithuania as well.

"As soon as we fall even a single step behind our neighbors, we can expect pressure on our border to mount even further," he said.

However despite the funding issues, Garbars claimed that more border violations have been prevented this year over the last.

"In comparison to last year, when Lithuania asked us to take back more than 100 people in this period, claiming that these people have slipped past on our side of the border [..], this year Lithuania has requested [Latvia to take back] 20 people," said Garbars. 

Garbars claimed that the Border Guard have detained more border crossers than last year, while the total number of people trying to cross the border has not increased. 

Citizens of countries like Vietnam and Afghanistan are routinely caught trying to make it into Europe across Latvia's border with Russia and Belarus.

A fence is being built on parts of the eastern border to prevent illegal entry, and other measures like demarcation and monitoring are being taken by Latvia's Border Guard.

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