British daily The Guardian published an article on Friday about a baby girl born to an alleged Yazidi refugee family from Syria, who the Estonian officials are refusing to leave the Harku migrant detention and deportation center while applying for asylum. However, Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) says they have proof that the family are not quite who they claim to be, coming from Armenia and not war-torn Syria.
"One-month-old Warda was born in late October, after her parents were arrested in Tallinn a month earlier. They are Yazidis who allegedly fled northern Syria after the advance of Islamic State, which has persecuted the Yazidi minority in Syria and Iraq," The Guardian reported.
According to the PPA, the family claiming to be war refugees from Syria are actually citizens of Armenia. "They have acknowledged this themselves by now," PPA spokesman told Delfi.
"Reached by the Guardian via the center’s landline, and speaking in a Kurdish dialect through an Arabic-speaking fellow inmate, Warda’s father said he did not understand his legal situation and was lost in translation," The Guardian continued.
PPA, however, claims that the family has repeatedly presented them with false information, hence the delay in determining whether they need international protection or not. They were accommodated in Harku with a court warrant, so that the family could be together, PPA added. Families have a separate floor at the center and all their needs are met.
The "rubber bullets incident", referenced in The Guardian's article and allegedly brought about by mistreatment of inmates at Harku, was covered by ERR News earlier this week. You can read about it here.
Most people who are seeking asylum in Estonia are housed at Vao accommodation center, which they are free to enter and exit as they please. However, illegal immigrants whose applications have proved problematic, who refuse to apply for asylum in Estonia, or who are waiting to be deported, are detained in a closed facility in Harku.
"When we speak of Vao center, then that is a place where people are free, where they are waiting for a decision (made by PPA officials - ed.), while in Harku we are talking about people who are waiting for a court ruling or deportation,” Minister of Interior Hanno Pevkur explained on Thursday.
Editor: M. Oll