HELSINKI (Reuters) – The Finnish government will extend the closure of crossing stations on its border with Russia until April 14, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday.

Finland closed its eastern border with Russia late last year amidst a growing number of arrivals from countries including Syria and Somalia. It accused Moscow of funnelling migrants to the border, a claim the Kremlin has denied.

Finnish authorities have evidence that indicates more migrants would arrive from Russia if the government ended the closure, the interior ministry said on Thursday.

“There are at least hundreds but probably thousands of migrants near the Russian side of the border waiting for an opportunity to continue their journey to Finland,” Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said in a statement.

Altogether 1,323 asylum seekers came to Finland from Russia between August and December last year, according to the Finnish border authority.

Finland’s immigration authority in January told Reuters that it had not been able to locate some 160 of the migrants and that they had likely continued to another European country.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto, editing by Terje Solsvik)

Brought to you by