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.
- 1 Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
- 2 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
- 4 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
- 5 New Tricks: Dennis Waterman to leave the show after a decade of crime-solving
Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Ice Bucket Challenge: US firefighter Tony Grider dies after participating in charity craze near power lines
Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...