Parliamentary Factions: Estonia Should Accept Ukrainian Refugees If Such a Need Arises ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonian parliamentary factions support conservative refugee policies. But they also agree that, in addition to financial aid, Estonia should be able to react fast and offer refuge to Ukrainian citizens.

"If such a need arises and the events in Ukraine escalate, we would inevitably have to reconsider things," explained Kalev Kallemets, member of the Reform Party's parliamentary faction, to ERR's "Aktuaalne Kaamera".

According to Kallemets, the most important thing is for Estonia to increase its budget for humanitarian and development aid by 2 million euros in 2015, amounting to 12 million euros in total.

The head of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson said that open hostilities currently continue in two districts of Ukraine and the first preference, therefore, should be to accommodate the refugees within Ukraine itself.

At present, many refugees are forced to live in schoolhouses and old campsites, but winter is approaching fast. Germany, for instance, announced Tuesday that it will give 25 million euros in financial assistance to the Ukrainian goverment. The money will go toward building accommodation to refugees from eastern Ukraine.

"The first step that Estonia and our partners in the European Union should take is to ensure that necessary facilities for the refugees are in place in Ukraine itself," Mihkelson said.

Deputy head of the Estonian Center Party faction, Mailis Reps, said that the nature of Estonian aid to Ukraine is a question of principles.

"At the moment we have talked of humanitarian and financial support. If we agree to take it to the level of individuals then on the political level this is a decision for the government and there might be a need for some clarification on technical aspects," Reps said.

In addition to support through state agencies, people can volunteer to do their part. Three Estonian NGOs will launch a "For Ukraine!" campaign on Thursday, during which they collect donations for Ukrainian refugees and those affected by the conflict.

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