Baltics bring home citizens stuck at Polish border

Vilnius (AFP) –


Baltic states on Wednesday deployed ships, a train and a plane to repatriate hundreds of citizens stuck at the border between Germany and Poland after Warsaw banned foreign nationals over the coronavirus.

A ship from Germany docked at the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda Wednesday evening, hours after a train arrived in the central city of Kaunas, transport ministry spokeswoman Aldona Griniene told AFP.

Vilnius also sent a military transport plane to airlift dozens of people from Germany who were unable to cross into Poland earlier this week. More ships are scheduled in the coming days.

Neighbour Latvia has sent ferries to Sweden and Germany on similar missions.

Estonians are to leave Germany via a Tallink ship and arrive back home after first disembarking in Latvia.

The Baltic trio have criticised Poland for refusing to open a "humanitarian corridor" for passenger cars returning home from Western Europe.

Warsaw did approve organised convoys of vans and buses escorted by police, but have been turning back individuals in their cars.

"The border situation has finally been resolved and our stranded people can leave. I asked my Polish colleagues to ensure that we don't see a repeat of the situation," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius told AFP.

Poland, which has 38 million people and 287 confirmed cases of COVID-19, closed its borders Saturday to slow the spread of the virus.

Freight has been exempted from the measure, but late Wednesday lines of trucks stretched 37 kilometres (23 miles) at the Lithuanian-Polish border.