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Finland To Close Some Border Crossings Amid Surge in Illegal Migrant Arrivals

It claims Russia is deliberately helping illegal crossings, particularly by citizens of Syria, Yemen and Iraq reaching the border.

A view of Russian border crossing point in Svetogorsk, as seen from Pelkola, Finland April 14, 2023. REUTERS/Janis Laizans

Finland’s Prime Minister, Petteri Orpo, has announced the closure of four border crossings with Russia in the south, effective midnight Friday, citing a recent surge in illegal crossings, particularly by citizens from Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. The closed crossing points include Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Niirala, and Imatra, situated in the far south-east of the country. Two crossings in the north, Salla and Vartius, will remain open for asylum applications.

Finland alleges that Russia is deliberately assisting individuals without proper documentation in reaching the border. Orpo accuses Russian authorities of facilitating and escorting migrants to the border. The prime minister expressed concern about the orchestrated nature of the crossings, emphasising that people arrive legally in Russia before travelling to the border to enter Finland and claim asylum.

On Wednesday, border guards reported 75 asylum seekers arriving in Finland. The country shares a 1,340km (833-mile) border with Russia, the longest in Europe. The move to close specific crossings reflects Finland’s efforts to address the recent influx of migrants and mitigate the impact on border security and immigration processes.

Kiki Garba