Ilves Calls for Government Cooperation to Bring Ukrainian Refugees With Estonian Roots Back
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said on social media that the interior and foreign ministries should find a solution to those fleeing Ukraine who have an Estonian connection.
“Forget the bureaucracy and justifications to turn them away, and find a way to help them,” Ilves said.
According to the UN, more than a million people have been displaced in Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Around 23,000 ethnic Ukrainians live in Estonia, the third largest ethnic group after Estonians and Russians, but only 32 have asked for asylum.
Bogdan Ljutjuk, head of a Ukraine cultural center in Estonia, said the number of Ukrainians visiting Estonia on a three-month tourist visa has increased, and many want to extend the visa until the end of the war.
More arrive for medical treatment
Ten Ukrainians injured in the conflict will arrive in Estonia for treatment on Tuesday. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said the ministry is preparing to send food to the conflict-hit nation. Five people injured in the Maidan protests received medical treatment in Estonia earlier in the year.
He said Ukraine will be the main focus in next year's aid program.