Survey: Some improvements in displaced persons' conditions in Estonia

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Cover of welcome guide for displaced persons arriving in Estonia, published in 2015. Source: (International Organization for Migration)

Displaced persons resident in Estonia have, despite facing many issues, experienced fewer challenges than their contemporaries in Latvia and Lithuania, according to a recent survey, though all three countries have made a lot of progress in recent years, the survey found.

"Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, young asylum countries, have come a long way in establishing integration practices which enable refugees and host communities to thrive together," said Henrik M. Nordentoft, the Nordic and Baltic countries' United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative.

"This progress should inspire and motivate further initiatives, leading to welcoming societies for refugees and all citizens," he added.

Fifty-two percent of respondents, all displaced persons resident in Estonia agreed with the statement that public attitudes towards their demographic are generally welcoming, though as high a figure as 80 percent felt that social benefits are provided within a sufficient time-frame.

However, notwithstanding progress made in Estonia and the other two Baltic States, there is room for improvement regarding integration (rarely a clearly defined term in Estonia in any case and conflated with both acculturation at one end of the spectrum and assimilation at the other – ed.), and also areas such as employment, housing and the overall atmosphere, which often received more negative feedback than positive.

These challenges will need to be addressed to enable refugees to use their resilience, determination and resourcefulness to contribute to their local communities and economies, the UNHCR said.

On the whole, however, all three countries have, compared with the years 2013-2016, made efforts to improve things and adopted and implemented important targeted policies and measures to strengthen the integration of displaced persons. 

The survey, undertaken by UNHCR's Representation for the Nordic and Baltic Countries and partners, polled displaced persons from more than 20 countries of origin on their experience with integration in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, BNS reports.

The survey provides first-hand insights into the lives of refugees and their experience with the arrival in a new country and their efforts to establish a new life and become members of the local communities.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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