According to Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur, Estonia, like the EU as a whole, will likely prove unable to adhere to the original plan of relocating 550 war refugees by the end of 2017.
"Objectively assessing [the matter], it is hard to believe that by the end of net year, the EU as a whole, including Estonia, would be able to relocate as many people as had been planned," Pevkur told BNS on Tuesday.
Under the EU migrant distribution plan, Estonia had promised to resettle approximately 550 war refugees from Greece, Italy and countries outside of the EU in Estonia by the end of 2017. As of Sept. 16, Estonia had accepted 60 people granted international protection, or about 11 percent of the expected volume.
"When comparing with other EU member states, Estonia has nothing to be ashamed of regrding the pace of relocating war refugees," said Pevkur. "From the start, we have carried out all necessary procedures so that people would go through background checks, Estonia would be introduced to them and they would want to come here. The goal is that getting international protection and a residence permit would be clear before coming to Estonia, and when they arrive here they would be able to settle into their new homes. We will continue in the same way and will help those who really need help."
As of Sept. 13, EU member states had relocated a total of 4,741 war refugees, including 3,677 from Greece and 1,064 from Italy. A total of 1,583 people have been resettled from Turkey to the EU after a deal was struck between the two.
On Sept. 13, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) criticized the EU for the very slow relocation of refugees, saying that a year after the program was launched, only three percent of the 160,000 war refugees promised to be relocated had been resettled.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla