The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) caught over 1,000 foreign nationals entering Estonia illegally in 2018, more than double the total caught in 2016.
Last year, a total of 1,110 people were caught entering Estonia illegally. While PPA officials were able to hinder the entry of 732 individuals at border checkpoints already, 45 people were caught in the process of illegally crossing the border, while another 333 were caught after already having entered the country.
In comparison, PPA officials caught 928 people entering Estonia illegally in 2017, 414 of them at border crossing points, 35 in the process of illegally crossing the border and 479 after they had already entered the country, while in 2016, PPA officials caught just 527 people entering the country illegally, indicating that this figure had doubled in two years, it appears from newly released PPA statistics.
Of those identified while attempting to enter the country at a border checkpoint, a significant number were Ukrainian citizens, 345 of whom were blocked from entering Estonia last year, followed by 72 Russian and 56 Moldovan citizens.
16 Bangladeshi, seven Russian and seven Egyptian citizens were also caught illegally crossing the Estonian border.
PPA Director General Elmar Vaher told the press on Wednesday that the countries of origin of persons caught illegally entering the country have changed over time.
For example, Mr Vaher noted that many of those illegally crossing the Estonian border 5-7 years ago were Vietnamese or Georgian citizens, but the number of individuals from these countries attempting to enter Estonia illegally had dwindled significantly.
"They have found other paths and ways to move to Europe," he noted.
Of those who had already entered the country, PPA officials caught 221 Ukrainian, 34 Russian and 30 Moldovan citizens in Estonia illegally.
Editor: Aili Vahtla