Report: Estonia's refugee policy needs revision (27)

Refugees watch a group of trucks, part of a so-called humanitarian convoy from Russia, cross the Ukrainian border at the Donets k-Izvarino custom control checkpoint. (AFP Photo/Scanpix)
3/24/2015 3:21 PM
Category: Politics

Estonia has refused to be part of the UN Refugee Agency's displacement programs and taken a firm stand against any solidarity mechanisms within the EU, says a review of Estonia's refugee policy and reception system, commissioned by the NGO Estonian Refugee Council.

Estonia grants asylum to a few dozen people a year. The yearbook gives the geographical distance of Estonia from main source countries, Estonia not being on or near the main transit routes of refugees. Lack of native communities, Estonia's conservative and discouraging refugees policy and EU's reportedly hostile border and asylum policies as the main reasons for this.

The report points out that in 2014, none of the 55 asylum seekers from Ukraine was granted international protection in Estonia. First successful applications were not made until this month, although applicants's visas have been previously extended on mitigated terms.

The Police and Border Guard Board has explained the decision to turn down applications by Ukrainian citizens with the fact that they can move within Ukraine itself.

Estonia has not allowed for any other refugee status to complement the ones set by the EU conventions, granting asylum for humanitarian reasons, for example, like Finland, Sweden and a host of other countries. Neither does Estonia grant temporary protection that the authors of the report say could help the refugees from Ukraine.

"The underlying principles of Estonia's national asylum policies have been not to take on any additional responsibilities and to apply intimidation," the authors's conclude, adding that the increased pressure from the EU will hopefully force Estonian policymakers to revise the current system.

M. Oll

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