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Finland closes border crossing points again

Finland will close to border crossings with Russia on December 15, 2023.
Finland will close to border crossings with Russia on December 15, 2023. Source: Yle/ Heikki Haapalainen

Finland will close two crossings on its eastern border with Russia after 70 asylum seekers arrived on Thursday. The entry points were reopened today after an initial two-week closure.

Border officials reported on Thursday that by around 6 p.m. 21 people had applied for asylum at the Vaalimaa checkpoint, while about 50 arrived at the Niirala station.

The two checkpoints in southeastern Finland will close again at 8 p.m. on Friday (December 15), Interior Minister Mari Rantanen told a press conference. They will stay shut until at least January 14.

"Attempts to enter the country [by asylum seekers] began faster than expected when the Vaalimaa and Niirala border crossings were opened," Rantanen was quoted by Finnish public broadcaster Yle as saying.

She said the Finnish government aims to put an end to the phenomenon of undocumented migrants applying for asylum at the eastern border checkpoints.

Eight checkpoints on the border were closed last month after Russia directed undocumented migrants to the Finnish side of the 1,300 km-long frontier.

Estonian authorities are concerned the migrants may now arrive at the country's borders and have taken precautions, including limiting traffic on the bridge between Narva and Russia.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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