Police chief: Plan in place if refugees reach Estonian border

Border crossing point at Estonian-Latvian border.
Border crossing point at Estonian-Latvian border. Source: Verner Vilgas/ERR

A plan is in place if refugees crossing into Europe from Belarus reach Estonia's southern border, the PPA and Defense League told a public discussion on Monday, Pärnu Postimees reported.

Commander of the Defense League (Kaitseliit) volunteer corps Brig. Gen. Riho Uhtegi and Director General of the Police and Border Guard Board Elmar Vaher held a public discussion at a national defense event in Saarde, a rural municipality situated not far from the Estonian-Latvian border, where Vaher said that a plan for a scenario in which refugees reach Ikla is in place.

He said tasks have been agreed with Kaitseliit, the Health Board and hospitals. Vaher estimated that a third of what occurs at the border would remain the task of Kaitseliit and the rest that of the partners. He said the knowledge and skills of Kaitseliit members are especially valuable in the "green" area between border crossing points.

Vaher said that compared to 30 years ago, it is much safer to live in Estonia, but now one of the most difficult issues that the Police and Border Guard Board is keeping an eye on is what is happening on the Belarusian border.

Several thousand people are waiting for an opportune moment to flee the country, he said. Such an opportunity opens up for them in the direction of Latvia, as Estonia's southern neighbor has 270 kilometers of common border with Belarus, which, according to Vaher, is undeveloped, and the pressure towards Poland has begun.

The Latvian-Belarusian border. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The police chief said that Estonia, together with its partners, is closely monitoring when the flow of refugees arrives here. "The question is not whether it will arrive, but when it will arrive," Vaher said.

He affirmed that Estonia is ready to restore border control, but currently considers it important to have information on the direction of the movement of illegal immigrants and support its southern neighbors. Vaher added that, according to all the collected signs, those coming from Iraq have an interest in reaching Finland or Sweden through Estonia.

Vaher said that those who want to go to Europe via Belarus should be called welfare immigrants instead of war refugees.

Several thousand irregular migrants have crossed the border from Belarus into Lithuania, Latvia and Poland in recent months mostly from the middle east and Africa. The Baltics and Poland have called this a "hybrid attack" from Belarus due to their support for the country's opposition movement.

While Estonia has not been affected so far, it is thought the migrant route could change if migrants want to reach Scandinavia.


Follow ERR News on Facebook and Twitter and never miss an update!

Editor: Helen Wright

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: