Latvian Border Crisis: The Rising Tide of Illegal Migration
A Surge in Illegal Migration
Latvia has recently been grappling with a marked increase in the flow of illegal migrants, a problem that has caused significant concern in the Baltic nation. According to Rustamas Liubajevas, the head of the State Border Guard Service (VSAT) in Lithuania, these migrants typically cross the border illegally from Belarus into Latvia, and from there, they are transported through various points in Lithuania. Given that there is no border control between Latvia and Lithuania, regular detentions of smugglers and migrants occur within Lithuanian territory, and occasionally within Polish territory by Polish border guards.
Reinstating Border Control: A Possible Solution?
Liubajevas suggested that the reinstatement of border control with Latvia could be considered to curb the situation. However, he stated that the current rate of migrants detected in Lithuania does not justify such a move. Reinstating border control would require additional efforts, while the situation at the borders with Belarus and the Russian Federation remains complex. Therefore, priority is given to border protection with Belarus.
Reinforcements at the Border
With the escalating number of illegal migrants, additional forces are being deployed at the border with Belarus. The border stretch, which spans about 170 kilometers, is currently being assisted by the Latvian army and police. Authorities are redeploying forces from other border stretches, and Lithuanian officers are also stepping in to provide assistance.
Infrastructure Development and Challenges
Liubajevas pointed out that infrastructure development in Latvia lags behind that of Lithuania. Physical barriers are being installed, but the completion process is still ongoing. The border surveillance system is also yet to be fully implemented. These factors complicate border protection, necessitating the deployment of more personnel to ensure the protection of the border between Belarus and Latvia.
Accusations against Belarusian Dictator
Latvia, along with Poland and Lithuania, has accused the Belarusian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, of systematically transporting migrants to the EU’s external borders, thereby exerting pressure on the West. In response, these countries have bolstered their border protection measures. Despite these efforts, the issue of illegal migration remains a pressing concern that requires immediate attention and resolution.
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