Latvia slams door on train refugees
Thursday 06 April 1995
Normunds Belskis, from Latvia's interior ministry, said his government had proof the would-be refugees reachedLatvia from Russia and Belarus, and said they should be returned there. He denied UNHCR's claims that the asylum-seekers were living in inhumane conditions, said they had received plenty of food, water and medical attention and insisted they were "far better off than they would be if we put them in a military barracks".
The 104 would-be refugees, mostly Iraqis, have spent the past week in a railway siding near Karsava, close to Latvia's border with Russia. In the preceding week they were shunted several times between Latvia, Russia and Lithuania, none of which would accept them.
The UNCHR has condemned all parties in the dispute, accusing them of treating those on board the train "like cattle".
Two UN representatives who visited the group said the situation was "grave". With no proper heating and not enough blankets, many were suffering from cold. Insufficient food and unclean water, supplied by a fire brigade, had led to widespread diarrhoea, they reported.
In addition to 85 Iraqis, the group includes 13 Afghans, four Palestinians and two Iranians. More than half are children. According to the UNHCR, most are genuine asylum-seekers.
Neither Latvia nor Lithuania, both of which regained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, have legislation that covers asylum procedures. They claim they are too poor to cope with refugees.
"We do not have reception centres to house such people, nor the money to build them," Mr Belskis said.
The Baltic states fear that if they allow any refugees to stay, they will be swamped with thousands more, using the Baltic states as stepping stones to the West. The UNHCR has offered technical help to Latvia, to provide the asylum-seekers with better interim accommodation.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 2 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 3 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 4 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 5 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...
£25000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join...
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: Service Desk Analyst Re...