Riga, 10 August 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Latvia has extended its state of emergency along the border with Belarus until November 10, amid a year-long dispute over migrant crossings and amid heightened concerns over Russia’s war on neighbouring Ukraine.
The government’s decision on Tuesday means the state of emergency has been in force for almost exactly a year.
It was first imposed when thousands of migrants sought to enter the European Union’s external borders into the Baltic states and Poland.
The EU accused authoritarian Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko of deliberately flying people from crisis regions into Minsk in order to smuggle them into the EU and destabilize the West.
The extension of the state of emergency authorizes Latvia’s border guards to continue sending back migrants who entered the country illegally from Belarus.
The number of illegal crossings has fallen somewhat, according to the Interior Ministry, but border guards are still encountering migrants trying to enter Latvia from Belarus.
Russia’s war on Ukraine was said to be a further factor in the decision, as Latvia shares a border with Russia and Belarus, Moscow’s ally.
Latvia’s official figures show border guards have averted almost 6,800 attempts by migrants to cross the border illegally since the state of emergency was first declared in August 2021.