Lithuania’s SBGS chief says he is surprised by flows of irregular migrants to Latvia

  • 2023-08-25
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

POSKONYS VILLAGE, SALCININKAI DISTRICT – The large numbers of irregular migrants that have recently been heading to Latvia from Belarus are surprising, Rustamas Liubajevas, commander of Lithuania's State Border Guard Service (SBGS), has said.

"We are definitely seeing an increase, especially at the border with Latvia – the numbers in recent days have been really surprising, with more than a hundred attempts to cross the Latvian-Belarusian border illegally recorded every day," he told reporters on Friday.

Over the past week, the number of migrants attempting to cross into Latvia from Belarus has varied from 11 to 143 per day. In Lithuania, the respective number ranged from a few to a dozen or so.

"This is why our Latvian colleagues have taken decisions to reinforce border protection, and a decision has also been taken to reinforce the Latvian Border Guard Service with [resources of] other institutions. We also react flexibly, we assess the situation and, depending on that situation and the level of risk, we take decisions on mobilization of other institutions," Liubajevas said.

At the same time, Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite reiterated that migrants might be trying to take advantage of the fact that Latvia has fewer measures in place at the border with Belarus than Lithuania.

"Latvia still does not have a physical barrier, does not have border surveillance systems and has only recently deployed the army. So all these decisions implemented in Lithuania mean that our border is simply closed, while in Latvia the situation is different," the minister said.

As regards the flows of migrants trying to cross into Poland, she said that it was more convenient to travel to Western European countries from Poland.

The SBGS said on Friday morning that Lithuanian border guards had in the past 24 hours recorded no attempts to cross into the country from Belarus illegally. Meanwhile, Latvia reported 53 attempts at illegal border crossings on Thursday, and another 175 irregular migrants were not allowed into Poland on Wednesday, according to the latest available information.

The influx of migrants from Belarus started in 2021. The international community claims that it is being orchestrated by the Belarusian regime in retaliation for the sanctions imposed.