Expiring FIFA World Cup Fan IDs may put pressure on eastern border

As Fan IDs are set to expire at the end of the year, some of the large numbers of third country citizens to travel to Russia in connection with the 2018 FIFA World Cup this summer may attempt to enter Estonia illegally, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) warned.

The PPA is calling on local residents to notify the border guard of any suspicious persons moving in areas near Estonia's eastern border.

"As the FIFA World Cup Fan IDs will expire on 31 December, the pressure of illegal migration on Estonia's eastern border may increase," said Egert Belitsev, head of the PPA's Integrated Border Management Bureau.

"Between this May and now, border guards have prevented the border crossing of 138 foreigners who had arrived in Russia with a FIFA World Cup Fan ID but then attempted to enter Europe," Mr Belitsev said. "Illegal migration involves the use of a forged travel document at border crossing points, hiding foreigners in trucks or buses, and also, for instance, illegal border crossing on the southeastern border, where borders have caught foreigners moving both alone as well as in a group."

On several occasions, he noted, border guards caught people crossing the border illegally thanks to local residents' attentiveness. "Now, too, we are asking to be notified via 112 of people whose behaviour and appearance suggest that they have arrived in Estonia by crossing the border illegally."

According to the official, Finland's eastern border with Russia will also face pressure.

"According to a threat assessment, risk countries first and foremost include citizens of Nigeria, Senegal, Morocco, Bangladesh, Ghana, Pakistan, Egypt and Venezuela, who, as a rule are, economic migrants," Mr Belitsev added.

Visa needed to enter Schengen area

The FIFA World Cup Fan ID, with which third country citizens are allowed to remain in Russia through the end of the year, does not grant holders the right to enter Estonia; in order to enter the Schengen area, one must have the appropriate visa.

Most foreigners who illegally enter the country will be sent back to the country from which they arrived as soon as possible. Expenses incurred in their return will be covered largely from EU assets. Help from European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) will likewise be utilised.

Border crossings by World Cup Fan ID holders have also been hindered in Russia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Belarus, among other countries.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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