PPA rehearses mass intake of refugees at Estonian border checkpoint

PPA exercise HotSpot 2019.
PPA exercise HotSpot 2019. Source: ERR

In an exercise dubbed HotSpot 2019, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) rehearsed the mass intake of thousands of refugees at once at the border checkpoint located in Koidula, Southeastern Estonia on Thursday.

The focus of the exercise was on the procedures to be carried out upon the reception of incoming refugees, for which a large reception center was set up at Koidula Railway Station, ETV news broadcast Aktuaalne kaamera reported. All refugee-related procedures were rehearsed in turn.

"According to the scenario, we have 3,000 migrants coming in over the period of a couple of weeks — that is according to the script," PPA crisis management director Marti Magnus, the head of the exercise, explained. "In reality, we are rehearsing today with hundreds of people, and have different waves of people entering this area in groups of 50 and groups of ten."

According to the scenario, refugees from Syria, Afghaistan, Iraq and Palestine have arrived at the reception center who had been caught out in the countryside. Refugees were played by volunteers.

"The game begins for us when they are brought by bus to the reception center, which is where our activity begins," Magnus described. "We give them initial food packs so they have something to drink, paramedics are on site who can check to make sure there are no health problems, security checks, identification, fingerprinting, photographing, and then we move on to further procedures."

"Who has grounds for being granted asylum, who does not have grounds for asylum, and who is simply seeking a better life," added Tamar Tamm, director of the Border Guard Bureau of the PPA's South Prefecture.

"We actually need to understand that this scenario is possible," Tamm said regarding the need for such exercises. "Another important factor is that our people often go help other EU countries, and these people can use the experience we gained here today to help other member states."

Nearly 400 PPA officials took part in Thursday's exercise.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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