PPA detains Iraqi national who crossed border into Estonia illegally

The individual had crossed into Estonian territory on a passenger bus (photo is illustrative).
The individual had crossed into Estonian territory on a passenger bus (photo is illustrative). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) personnel apprehended a man who had crossed the border into Estonia illegally on Sunday. The individual, an Iraqi national, had entered the European Union illegally from Belarus, and was detected during a routine check of a passenger bus, after presenting false identification.

PPA West Prefecture head of border and migration service Margo Peters told BNS: "The man presented to the police an identity document that was not his. PPA officers took him to Pärnu police department for processing. We are currently investigating the manner in which the man had obtained the ID document."

At around 2.40 p.m. on Sunday, PPA officials entered a bus traveling from Riga to Tallinn and which was stopped at the village of Uulu, just south of Pärnu city and around 50km from the border, to check travelers' IDs.

They found the 25-year-old Iraqi man who had entered Estonia illegally. "For several months now, we have been directing additional patrols near the Estonian-Latvian border to check vehicles and people entering the country from Latvia in order to prevent possible illegal migration," Peters said.

The man told the PPA he was destined for Sweden, where he said he had relatives and was not planning to stay in Estonia, BNS reports.

The man is now in a detention center and negotiations with Latvian authorities for his return are ongoing.

The PPA stepped up control on Estonia's internal borders in mid-August, after a sustained surge in people, many of them from middle-eastern, North African and Sub-Saharan African states, crossing the border from Belarus.

Since that time, a total of 168,844 people and 87,539 vehicles have been checked at Estonian border checkpoints, BNS reports.

At the port of Tallinn, one of the most frequently used entry points into Estonia, the PPA said they check almost 85 percent of all passengers on a daily basis, while the practice is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Peters added that: "The idea of additional control in border areas is to prevent the formation of migration corridors, and it does not matter here whether Estonia is to be used as a transit country or whether Estonia is the final destination. The PPA take every case seriously, we assess the situation on a daily basis and act accordingly."

Thousands of people have crossed the border from Belarus into Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in a development condemned by Estonia and other EU states' leadership as a form of "hybrid warfare" in retaliation to sanctions placed on Belarus.

Estonia does not share a border with Belarus, but the PPA believes many of the migrants want to reach Scandinavia and will do so by traveling through Estonia. Last month, deported an Iraqi man who had been traveling in the boot of a car and had crossed the Belarusian-Latvian border.

Estonia has also expressed support for a stepped up border regime on the part of Latvia and Lithuania, which may include returning migrants who cross the border from Belarus at locations other than official checkpoints.

Latvia has already sent back over 1,500 people attempting to cross its border from the Belarusian side, since mid-August, the English-language portal of Latvian public broadcaster LSM reports.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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