PPA launches emergency response plan to manage war refugee arrivals
An emergency response plan to manage the arrival of refugees from Ukraine has been launched by Estonia's Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) on Friday. So far, more than 10,000 displaced people have arrived in Estonia.
The agency's plan will create a joint headquarters which will include the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, the Social Insurance Agency, the Health Board, the Defense League, the Rescue Board and local governments.
While each authority will be responsible for its own activities, the PPA will coordinate the refugees' arrivals. By launching the plan, the PPA can assign tasks to the necessary agencies and deploy additional resources.
PPA Director General Elmar Vaher will manage the response.
"The implementation of the emergency plan will allow us to better assist the Ukrainian war refugees," he said in a statement. He said the number of people arriving is so large that institutions need to reorganize their usual workflows.
Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) said: "More than 2,000 war refugees arrive in Estonia every day, and in order for us to receive them as smoothly as possible it is necessary to start approaching the situation from a different angle."
Until now, the PPA and the Social Insurance Board have been in charge of coordinating arrivals.
Vaher: Situation is critical
Vaher told ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Friday a large number of refugees have already arrived in Estonia, approximately 14,000 of which 3,500 have continued on to Finland.
He said as thousands of people are arriving every day this makes the situation critical for police as they need to carry out their regular duties at the same time.
"We must also monitor whether Russia is carrying out a hybrid attack that could lead to mass immigration," Vaher said.
The official said police are not currently reducing their core activities, but it cannot be ruled out in the future.
Data from Thursday shows 14,265 refugees had arrived in Estonia although approximately 3,000 were only transiting the country. This left a total of 10,789 and of these at least a third were children.
Ministers initially said Estonia could accept 2,000 refugees in total, but earlier this week the number was upped to 10,000. On Thursday, given the number of arrivals, Kristian Jaani said the country may end up with 22,000 refugees in a week's time.
Estonia has a total population of 1.3 million.
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Editor: Helen Wright