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Latvia Says It Intercepted More Than 1,000 Migrants On Belarus Border Over Past Month

Latvian border guard with detained migrants on the Belarus-Latvia border.
Latvian border guard with detained migrants on the Belarus-Latvia border.

Latvia says it has prevented more than 1,000 people from illegally entering the Baltic country since a state of emergency was declared at its border with Belarus a month ago, amid accusations that Minsk is intentionally sending migrants into EU member states.

The Latvian State Border Guard said in a statement on September 8 that its officers turned away 27 migrants from crossing the border with Belarus the previous day, bringing the total number of attempted crossings during the crisis to 1,005.

The EU member state on August 10 declared a three-month state of emergency in several southern and southeastern regions following an influx of migrants coming from its neighbor.

The move gives armed border guards the power to use force to repel migrants illegally attempting to cross into Latvian territory.

Latvia, along with Lithuania and Poland, has seen a surge of migrants arriving from Belarus in recent months, with European officials accusing Minsk of orchestrating the illegal crossings in retaliation for sanctions over a crackdown by authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka on the country's pro-democracy movement following a disputed presidential election in August 2020.

Most of the migrants are from the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

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