Latvia migrants complain it’s cold, benefits are stingy and no one speaks their language

Macedonian riot policemen stand in front of the wired fence at the border between Greece & Macedonia. Latvia, which has a population of roughly two million, is gearing up to accept hundreds of refugees as part of the quota agreed by diiplomats in Brussels.

But those who have arrived in the tiny Baltic state say the cold weather, lack of generous state handouts and relatively low number of fellow migrants who speak the same language have combined to make their experience of life in Europe thoroughly miserable.

One refugee worker told German newspaper Die Welt: “The refugees from southern countries tell us openly: Latvia is not our dream destination, we happened here, it was up to the smugglers.”

Many of those who made the perilous journey from war-ravaged parts of Africa and the Middle East say they have witnessed a backlash against them since the attacks in Paris.

Latvian MEP Artis Pabriks said her country was not “opposed” to the reception of refugees, but plans are underway to build a huge barbed fence along its border with Russia to stop illegal immigrants from gaining entry.

Colonel Marik Petrusins, a senior border patrol officer and co-chair of the Russian-Latvian working group on border issues, said: “This 276 km [170 miles] long border was very quiet until 2013.”

Latvians protesting about the influx of migrantsLatvians protesting about the influx of migrants

Now, hundreds of refugees and migrants – mainly from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, but also Vietnam – are using the porous border to slip into Europe undetected.

Many of them are heading first to Poland, where they meet up with compatriots, before heading further west.

Col Petrusins added: “The plan is now a fence of 90 kilometres [56 miles] in length, two meters high plus barbed wire, also sensors and cameras.”

More than 600,000 refugees and other migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia have entered Europe through Greece this year, many after making the short sea crossing from Turkey.

Most of them continue on a long trek through the Balkans toward the promised lands of central and northern Europe.

Austrian police have reported a sharp drop in the number of refugees crossing into the country over the route from Greece through the western Balkan nations.

Map of Latvia

Thousands a day have been coming in from Slovenia in recent weeks, but police say no migrants have entered Austria at two main crossings for two days.

Trains and buses continue bringing migrants into Austria over other points, but the numbers are down.

Police spokesman Michael Masaniger says around 1,300 people arrived by bus and train on Friday.

Police say the reduction in numbers may have to do with the onset of cold weather and the fact that some Balkan countries are letting people through only selectively.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s