A new report from BNS (Baltic News Service) indicates that the number of irregular migrants arriving in Lithuania from Latvia has increased twentyfold this year. Lithuanian Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė discussed the issue with her Latvian counterpart Rihards Kozlovskis on September 27. From the start of this year until September 25, 822 third-country nationals were detained in Lithuania after entering from Latvia, according to the Defence Ministry.
“Lithuania has made every effort to boost the protection of the state border and we have seen the result as the number of attempts to cross the border illegally has significantly decreased. However, we are seeing an increase in secondary migration flows from Latvia,” Bilotaitė said.
“We discussed possible measures to tackle this situation with the minister,” she added.
The two ministers agreed to further strengthen cooperation between law enforcement authorities in managing irregular migration.
Currently, the Lithuanian and Latvian border services ensure that irregular migrants detained in Lithuania are returned to Latvia within 72 hours. Lithuanian officers will continue assisting Latvia in protecting its border with Belarus, the Interior Ministry said. A new team of 20 Lithuanian border guards left for Latvia on the 26th to replace the 17 Lithuanian border guards who have been guarding the Latvian border with Belarus for the past two weeks. Lithuania has a physical barrier and surveillance systems in place along most of its border with Belarus.
Over 1,700 border crossings have been prevented in Lithuania so far this year and over 9,000 in Latvia.