Sudanese migrant freezes to death in illegal EU-Russia crossing
(TALLINN) - A Sudanese migrant froze to death in Estonia in an ill-fated illegal crossing of the EU-Russia border, police said Thursday.
The 54-year-old man and two other surviving Sudanese men crossed a river from Russia to reach Estonia, a member of the European Union since 2004, police spokesman Kerly Peitel told AFP, noting temperatures had plunged below minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 Fahrenheit).
The two survivors, aged 26 and 31, filed for asylum in Estonia on Thursday where human rights groups protested a criminal probe launched by police against the men, whom they suspect were smuggled into the country by human traffickers.
"The UN has called the situation in Sudan a humanitarian catastrophe," Anni Saar from the Tallinn-based Human Rights Center told AFP.
"These desperate people are looking for ways to survive and to treat them as illegals or unlawful immigrants is extremely inappropriate," she said.
Estonia, an ex-Soviet Baltic nation of 1.3 million people, is mainly a transit country for people illegally entering the EU from neighbouring Russia.
In 2013, 97 asylum applications were filed in Estonia of which only seven have received positive responses so far, Saar said.