Of the 89 people who have arrived in Estonia under the EU's migrant relocation plan since March 2016, one individual has now left the country, daily Eesti Päevaleht reports.
An Iraqi man left Estonia in January, while his family remained in the country. In addition, a Lebanese family who arrived in Estonia outside of the framework of the EU migrant relocation plan has also left the country. Both the Iraqi man and the Lebanese family have returned to their respective native countries.
Katrin Tammekun, a senior officer at the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), said that there was nothing strange about persons who have received international protection or have been granted refugee status returning to their native country. Every person who has an Estonian residence permit can return to their native country. Besides, the paper noted, people who have been granted international protection are allowed to travel and they are not forbidden to leave Estonia.
"The persons who have been granted international protection need to take into account that by returning to their native country, their international protection ends as their wish to return demonstrates that their lives are no longer threatened in their native country and a threat to life is the basis of granting international protection," Tammekun explained. "It is common international practice that international protection ends after a person returns to their native country and Estonia is no exception."
International protection remains in force, however, if a person travels on to other countries. The option also exists to return to Estonia, for instance with a visa, and apply for asylum for a second time, although in such a case the proceeding would start again and it would once again be assessed what dangers await the person in their native country, Tammekun noted.
According to the senior PPA officer, persons who have been granted international protection do not need to justify why they wish to return to their native country.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla