UNHCR: Estonia successful with integrating refugees

Refugees in an Estonian language class in Vao. Photo is illustrative.
Refugees in an Estonian language class in Vao. Photo is illustrative. Source: (Priit Simson/Delfi)

According to a study carried out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Estonia has been successful with integrating refugees, and refugees that remain in the country seek to become independent and socially integrate as soon as possible.

The UNHCR study, titled "Integration of Refugees in Estonia: Participation and Empowerment," mapped laws, development plans and services concerning the integration of refugees in Estonia, the Ministry of the Interior said. Similarly to studies carried out in Latvia and Lithuania, ministries and institutions that deal with refugees were also included in the study and group discussions were held with refugees living in the country.

Results of the study showed that the rights of people who apply for and receive international protection in Estonia correspond with international and European standards. In addition, Estonia has made several commendable steps in legislation as well as in practical cooperation between institutions and social partners to welcome refugees under the EU migrant distribution plan.

The study showed that refugees living in Estonia want to contribute to the society and economy, learn Estonian, and become independent and integrate socially at the first opportunity.

Refugees who were interviewed said that the support person service available to refugees is very helpful for getting access to public services and getting in contact with the locals. At the same time, it is often quite hard for refugees to find a place to live, good language courses and a job corresponding to their qualifications as well as take part in public life.

The UNHCR study was conducted from January to November 2016 in cooperation with a local correspondent, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, NGO Jhannes Mihkelson Center and NGO Estonian Refugee Council.

Estonia has granted international protection as of 1997. Before 2016, a total of 899 people had applied for asylum in Estonia, of which 314 had been granted it as well. People who have received international protection from Estonia come primarily from Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Sudan and Iraq.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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