Ministry: State not planning new asylum seeker housing units
The Estonian government has no plans to open new accommodation units for asylum seekers, the Ministry of Social Affairs said, commenting on the buyer of a former army training base saying he was planning to convert it into a refugee housing facility and a care home.
"There's no need to set up additional accommodation centers in Estonia. Today the Vao accommodation center run by AS Hoolekandeteenused can meet the demand. All sorts of allegations concerning the opening of a new accommodation center are nothing but intentional dissemination of incorrect information," Oskar Lepik, spokesman for the Ministry of Social Affairs, told the Baltic News Service.
Janek Tiisler, board member of the company Ankatrans OÜ, which bought the compound of the Meegomäe combat school near the southeastern regional capital of Võru, said on Tuesday they were planning to set up a refugee accommodation facility and a care home there.
"While rumors that a refugee center will be set up here have circulated also earlier, sometimes rumors are true," Tiisler told BNS. Tiisler couldn't offer any estimates as regards to the cost, but said the company was in talks with the ministry.
Triin Raag, chief of international protection policy at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said earlier on Tuesday that to her knowledge there had been no communication by the ministry on the subject of the Meegomäe property or between the ministry and Ankatrans.
The Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) on Tuesday evening accused Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas of lying about the government's plans related to a new refugee facility, and threatened a vote of non-confidence. Martin Helme, chairman of the EKRE parliamentary party, said that when less than two weeks ago, on 10 February he had asked the prime minister about potential new refugee accommodation centers, his response was that Estonia was not threatened by mass immigration in the foreseeable future, and that it hadn't been necessary to open new refugee centers so far at least.
Ankatrans on Tuesday bought the former army school grounds in Meegomäe from Riigi Kinnisvara for €201,000. The starting price of the auction had been 200,000 euros, bids had to be made in writing.
The buildings on the 52,000 square meter property include the main building, a sports hall, a garage-cum-boilerhouse building, a canteen, a warehouse and several other structures.