Riga, 20 October 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The Latvian government has extended a state of emergency at its border with Belarus as migrants continue to attempt to enter the country, in what is widely seen as a coordinated effort by Minsk in response to EU sanctions.
The state of emergency is now in place until February 10, 2022. Officials said it would continue to apply in the four southeastern and southern regions affected, as previously.
Border guards stationed there will still be authorized to send back migrants who have entered the country illegally from Belarus.
Latvia first declared a state of emergency there on August 11 in a measure that was originally due to apply for three months.
Since then, nearly 1,800 people have been stopped while attempting to illegally cross the border, according to the Interior Ministry.
The governments in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland accuse Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko of deliberately bringing refugees from crisis regions to the EU’s external border in an organized manner.
In response to sanctions imposed by the European Union, Lukashenko said in May that Belarus would no longer prevent illegal migrants from using his country as a transit route.
Since then, there have been increasing reports of attempted illegal border crossings at the EU’s external borders with Belarus.
Latvia has responded by stepping up border protection and building a border fence extending hundreds of kilometres. For now, rolls of barbed wire are being laid out at different sections of the border, a process due to be completed by mid-November, according to the Interior Ministry.