Migrant crossings from Belarus to Baltics continue as EU Council meets

Riga, Oct 22 (EFE).- More than two months after Latvia and Lithuania declared emergencies related to irregular border crossings by migrants from Belarus, the countries continue to report pressure along their borders.

The reports come as the European Council met on Thursday and Friday to discuss EU migration policies and appeals by leaders like Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda for a joint EU declaration.

On Thursday, the Latvian Border Guard service reported it had prevented 14 migrants from crossing the border from Belarus.

A total of 1,839 people have been turned back at the border since an emergency was declared on August 10, according to Kristine Petersone, a border guard spokesperson.

The spokesperson said that 50 people had been allowed to enter the country on humanitarian grounds since the emergency was declared and 402 had been detained so far this year after “illegally” entering Latvia from Belarus.

The migrants were taken to asylum facilities in Riga and Daugavpils.

In Lithuania, local media reported Friday that over 450 irregular border crossers from Belarus were prevented from entering the country in the past week.

Lithuania has been hit hardest by the sudden influx of migrants, mainy from Iraq, this summer.

The southernmost Baltic country, which shares a long border with Belarus, recorded over 4,000 migrants crossing the border before it attempted to stop the flow with emergency measures in early August.

Both Lithuania and Latvia have called the flow of migrants from Belarus a form of hybrid warfare by strongman president Alexander Lukashenko in retaliation for sanctions imposed on his country by the EU and Western governments.

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