On Tuesday, August 10, the Cabinet of Ministers issued an order declaring a state of emergency in administrative territories of Ludza, Krāslava, Augšdaugava and Daugavpils. The decision stems from a rapid increase of illegal border crossings from Belarus into Latvian territory. From 1 July to 10 August, 342 people were registered while attempting to cross the border illegally. This is more illegal border crossings than in 2020.
The decision was informed by a similar situation on the border of Lithuania and Belarus. Lithuania declared a state of emergency and introduced new border control measures after 4000 people attempted to cross the Lithuania-Belarus border illegally. State officials in the three Baltic States and Poland have stated that this is a hybrid warfare operation prompted by the “Lukashenko regime”, as migration is instrumentalised to pressure the European Union to lift sanctions.
The state of emergency is declared from August 11, 2021 to November 10, 2021 in districts of Ludza, Krāslava, Augšdaugava and Daugavpils.
The order of the Cabinet of Ministers stipulates the obligation of the National Armed Forces and the State Police to provide assistance to the State Border Guard in ensuring border surveillance of the said border.
It determines the rights of the State Border Guard, the National Armed Forces and the State Police to use administrative measures and technical means to deter people from illegally crossing the border of Latvia and Belarus.
The order stipulates that the State Border Guard, the National Armed Forces and the State Police, upon finding a person illegally crossing the state border of Latvia and Belarus, will order them to return to the country from which they have crossed and will also take the necessary measures to ensure that they comply with this order. The State Border Guard will assess the nature of the response for each case and situation individually.
For the duration of the state of emergency applications for granting refugee or alternative status will be accepted outside the areas under the state of emergency.
National Armed Forces in cooperation with the State Border Guard, as well as The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs are obliged to provide a place and infrastructure for people who will have illegally crossed the border of Latvia and Belarus.
To ensure accommodation, food and basic necessities for asylum seekers who have arrived from Belarus the State Border Guard and The Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs can apply the regime of exception provided for in the Public Procurement Law. Execution of the order, including administrative and human resources costs, can to be financed from the state budget program "Contingency Funds".
The Cabinet of Ministers may decide to request international assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, NATO, or other international cooperation organizations and foreign platforms.
The situation on the border with Belarus has already been discussed during the meeting of the Prime Ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia on August 6; the situation will be the assessed during the meeting of EU Home Affairs ministers on August 18, 2021.
Ministry of the Interior