RIGA - The Saeima on Thursday approved the government's decision to extend the state of emergency in Latvia's municipalities bordering with Belarus until May 10.
On February 1, the government decided to extend the state of emergency in Ludza Region, Kraslava Region and Augsdaugava Region, as well as Daugavpils City, considering the still tense migration situation on Latvia's border with Belarus.
The Ministry of the Interior indicated that since August 10, 2021 a total of 5,853 persons have been deterred from illegally crossing from Belarus into Latvia. The number of persons trying to illegally cross into Latvia from Belarus has increased since December 13.
The ministry indicated that the steep rise in illegal border crossing attempts was caused by a change of tactics - since December 13, the migrants have been attempting to cross into Latvia in small groups of three to 12 people. These groups approach the border repeatedly and in various locations.
According to the ministry, additional costs that are expected to arise from extending the state of emergency in the border areas by three months are estimated at EUR 3.9 million.
The ministry will primarily assess the possibility to finance these expenses from its own budget and foreign-funded projects, but if these funds prove insufficient, an allocation will sought under the government budget program Funds for Unforeseen Events.
Interior Minister Marija Golubeva (Development/For) told the February 1 government meeting that on the whole, law enforcement authorities in cooperation with the military and border guards have been dealing with the situation very successfully. If the situation at the border improves significantly, the state of emergency might be called off before May 10.
As reported, taking into consideration the steeply increasing numbers of illegal immigrants trying to cross into Latvia from Belarus, the government declared a state of emergency to run from August 11 until November 10, 2021, and then extended to February 10, 2022, in the following municipalities: Ludza Region, Kraslava Region, Augsdaugava Region, and the City of Daugavpils.
Latvian authorities consider attempts by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko's regime to push migrants across Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish borders are methods of hybrid warfare targeting these countries.