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RIGA: Latvia declared a local emergency on its border with Belarus on Tuesday, as Lithuania’s parliament passed a law authorizing the construction of a border fence to stop the flow of illegal migrants.
In the past 24 hours, nearly 200 migrants crossed from Belarus to Latvia, a member state of the European Union and NATO, which has a population of 1.9 million.
“The state of emergency means that the border between Latvia and Belarus will be closed to practically everyone,” said Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, after the government agreed to introduce a state of emergency from Wednesday to November 10. after.
In neighboring Lithuania, parliament on Tuesday passed a law giving the green light to build a fence along the border with Belarus.
“We must have strong and reliable borders with Belarus (…) as soon as possible,” said Lithuanian Interior Minister Agni Belotit.
Brussels accused Belarus’s President Alexander Lukashenko of deliberately encouraging migrants, most of whom are Iraqi, to cross in response to severe sanctions imposed on his regime.
This week, Lithuania, which provided strong support and sanctuary to the Belarusian opposition, began working to repatriate migrants, with more than 4,000 people entering via Belarus since the beginning of this year.
Poland, which shares a border with Belarus, has recorded 349 arrivals since Friday.
On Tuesday, the European Union announced a “significant reduction” in the number of migrants arriving in Lithuania, after Iraq suspended flights to Belarus at the request of Brussels and Vilnius.
EU ministers are due to discuss the issue next week.
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