Coast Guard: More than 30 migrants from Belarus have reached Finland
The Finnish Coast Guard believes more than 30 migrants who crossed the Belarusian border have arrived in Finland in recent months, some traveling through Estonia. Several human trafficking investigations have been launched.
ERR's Helsinki correspondent on Wednesday spoke to Captain Lieutenant Jukka Tekokoski, head of the Coast Guard's Criminal Investigation Department.
"We have more than 10 cases under investigation. It is suspected that 30 people have arrived in Finland, but we actually estimate that this number is slightly larger," he told ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera".
This summer, after the first migrants started crossing into Lithuania and Latvia from Belarus, the Estonian Police and Border Guard (PPA) stepped up checks at the Port of Tallinn and on international buses.
The PPA suspected migrants may travel through Estonia to reach Finland and other Scandinavian countries. All three Baltic states are viewed as transit rather than destination countries, such as Germany or Finland.
Since then several migrants have been caught traveling in the boot of cars at the port or on buses coming from Latvia.
But Tekokoski said this is not the only route to reach Finland.
"They come by plane from Poland. Or they move west from Poland and then come by ship from Germany or Sweden, in a sense around the Baltic Sea," he said.
Most of the migrants who have arrived in Finland via Belarus have been Iraqis. Tekokoski said they are helped by a small group or network of traffickers.
"Several people have taken the opportunity to benefit financially and to take advantage of the plight of people who have come across the EU's external borders," he said.
The suspects currently under investigation are all permanent residents of Finland.
It is known that migrants have paid between $5,000 and $15,000 to reach the country.
Last month, the PPA caught two Iraqis in Tallinn who were traveling to Sweden and an Iraqi citizen with false documents on a Tallinn-bound bus.
In September, an Iraqi national, who crossed the Belarusian-Latvian border, was deported after trying to enter Finland in the trunk of a car from Estonia.
Earlier this week, Minister of Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) told ERR News there is currently no migratory pressure on Estonia.
"We are constantly monitoring and have made preparations in case the number of illegal border crossings should increase," he said.
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Editor: Helen Wright