RIGA - This year, border guards have prevented attempts of 5,026 people to illegally cross the Latvian-Belarusian border and 200 people have been allowed to enter Latvia from Belarus on humanitarian grounds, LETA was told at the State Border Guard.
Since December 24, as many as 153 people have been prevented from crossing the Latvian-Belarusian border and seven other have been allowed to cross into Latvia on humanitarian grounds.
As reported, illegal immigrants earlier this month smuggled two Afghan citizens over the Belarusian-Latvian border. Both Afghans were frostbitten and suffered from severe hypothermia. One of them later died at the Rezekne hospital.
The Belarusian authorities continue to pose hybrid threats on the border with Latvia and, despite the cold weather conditions, these threats are intensifying, the State Border Guard said.
Last year, Latvian border guards prevented 4,045 attempts to illegally enter Latvia from Belarus and detained 446 persons, most of them before the state of emergency was introduced. Of the detained persons, 59 voluntarily left Latvia, most of them for Iraq. Meanwhile, 421 people escaped from the asylum seekers' center, which in Pujats' opinion is an indication that these migrants had no intention to stay in Latvia. Migrants also often feigned illness to get into EU territory.
Considering the persistent pressure of illegal migration, the government on February 1 decided to extend the state of emergency in the regions bordering with Belarus until May 10. The state of emergency in the regions of Ludza, Kraslava and Augsdaugava as well as Daugavpils City was first declared on August 11, 2021 to deal with a sharp increase in illegal border crossings.
Latvian authorities consider attempts by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko's regime to push migrants across Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish borders to be methods of hybrid warfare targeting these countries.