Development aid NGO Mondo and the Estonian Refugee Council commend the government's decision to offer people in danger in Afghanistan the opportunity to resettle safely in Estonia but said swift action is needed.
Chair of the board of the MTÜ Mondo and coordinator of its activities in Afghanistan Riina Kuusik-Rajasaar said that the government's decision on Thursday must offer these people a rapid escape from the danger zone.
"In the wake of reports of Taliban activity near Kabul Airport and obstruction of the evacuation flights, the time window for people to reach their places of refuge is becoming narrower every hour and day," Kuusik-Rajasaar, coordinator of Mondo Afghanistan's activities, said.
Eero Janson, head of the Estonian Refugee Council, said that the government's decision was the only right decision.
"Although we understand the state's desire to thoroughly check people's backgrounds to ensure the safety of all people of Estonia, effective evacuation must be carried out as soon as possible. Instead of conducting a full-fledged asylum procedure at a distance, Estonia could issue humanitarian visas to existing cooperation partners and organize their immediate evacuation in cooperation with partner countries that have the appropriate capabilities," Janson said.
He said there is plenty of time for asylum proceedings, including in-depth interviews with applicants, after they have arrived in Estonia.
On Thursday, the Estonian government said it would accept up to 30 refugees and their immediate family members from Afghanistan. Twenty of those spaces will be for people who worked with Mondo in Afghanistan and 10 places will be for those who worked with the European Union or NATO.
Editor: Helen Wright