Estonia is having trouble with providing legal help to refugees, but also with ensuring good translation services. But the most important issue is granting them access to the job market, a specialist said at a conference on Estonian refugee policy held in Tallinn.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, there are more than 1.5 million people in Europe who have refugee or similar status, ERR radio and ETV reported on Thursday.
Cecilia Malmström, the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, said it has taken 14 years to work out a common refugee policy, and member states must now write the shared principles into their laws.
Kristiina Kallas of the Estonian Refugee Council said the state should consider allowing asylum seekers to work while they are waiting for the results of their applications. The process can sometimes take up to 2.5 years and Kallas said it would be economically beneficial to let asylum seekers work instead of relying on substinence benefits.
The refugees are spread very unevenly within the EU and Kallas said Estonia should allow more refugees in the country, as it was only the last century when large numbers of Estonians themselves were refugees.
Vincent Cochetel, Director of the Bureau for Europe UN Refugee Agency, encouraged Estonia to join the UN program to resettle refugees in an organized manner. So far, 16 EU countries have joined.
Malmström suggested Estonia could admit some refugees from Syria, people who have suffered in the war, especially women and children.