81 immigrants granted asylum in Estonia in last 10 years (6)

Children at a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (Reuters/Scanpix)
6/19/2015 5:26 PM
Category: Society

In the last 10 years, Estonia has given 81 people 'international protection' after they applied for asylum, figures show.

Statistics supplied by the Ministry of the Interior to ERR News cover the period between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2014. They show that during that time, 499 people applied for asylum in Estonia, but of those only 81 were offered international protection.

A spokesman for the ministry said: “The top countries of origin of applicants have been so far Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Vietnam, Belorussia, Iraq, Turkey.”

Number of people who applied for international protection

2005 – 11
2006 ­– 7
2007 – 14
2008 – 14
2009 – 36
2010 - 30
2011 – 66
2012 – 77
2013 – 97
2014 – 147

Number of people granted international protection

2005 – 1
2006 – 0
2007 – 4
2008 – 4
2009 – 4
2010 – 17
2011 – 11
2012 – 13
2013 – 7
2014 – 20

Head of the Estonian Refugee Council NGO, Eero Janson, said upon commenting the figures that the main increase in the last two years had come from Ukrainians. “If we put these numbers to context, they are obviously very small. Indeed, the smallest in the European Union."

“If we look at the increase in 2014 and also this year, it comes mostly from Ukrainian nationals seeking asylum. While in 2013 there were 97 asylum seekers (0 Ukrainians), in 2014 there were 143 new applicants (without the 4 family member applications), of them 55 Ukrainians (more than one third). Therefore, if we discount Ukrainians, the numbers are pretty much stable and very low.”

Janson said that Estonia should do more – and after recent events will most probably do more – to help people in need. "We in Estonian Refugee Council are very much in favor of Estonia taking part in UN Refugee Agency's (UNHCR) resettlement program where the country can set its own quota and resettle proactively the most vulnerable groups who have no other options. Estonia should start small – probably not 326 people for two years – in order to build up its capacity gradually and ensure that all protection needs of refugees are met."

He added that Estonia should also increase its humanitarian aid funding which was actually cut earlier this year to fill in the gaps of the new government's coalition agreement. "This is a very worrysome decision to see in the current global context.”

H. Wright

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