Narva already struggling to accommodate war refugees

Refugees from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Narva-Jõesuu.
Refugees from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Narva-Jõesuu. Source: ERR

The arrival of a few dozen people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine has already stretched municipal resources in the Estonian border town of Narva to the maximum extent, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Friday.

While some are staying in hotels, these will need state support, which has not yet been forthcoming.

Some of those arriving have spoken of a catch-22-type situation where they can't get documentation of their arrival, or at least the process is not a quick one, while at the same time they aren't likely to find employment without that documentation.

Narva, which lies on the border with the Russian Federation, has seen 85 refugees arriving from Ukraine. As the bulk of these have been children, accommodating them in communal areas such as a dormitory is not possible, due in part to the poor conditions of such potential dwellings.

Narva's mayor, Katri Raik, told AK that: "Unfortunately, the local government's dormitory rooms are in such a poor condition that they can certainly not be given to anyone without undergoing repairs or furnishing."

"We will probably have no choice but to accommodate refugees in hotels soon and hope that the state will reimburse us later," the mayor added.

In nearby Narva-Jõesuu, head of the social department Veronika Stepanova said: "We are allocating municipal premises in Sinimäe to three families, then we have five more people who came via the Orthodox Church, which will accommodate them itself."

This meant that the municipality was already at its limit, with the 32 refugees it has taken on Stepanova added.

"We no longer have the opportunity to receive refugees," she said.

Again, many of the initial arrivals were put up in hotels, but the status of getting reimbursed by the state for this was not clear, AK reported, leaving the bulk of the arrivals to fend for themselves, with relatives, if they have any in the vicinity, or by renting, if they can afford to.

On refugee, Julia, told AK of the struggle to get by.

She said: "We need simple things. Pans, a saucepan, spoons and forks, but we have nothing. Even if we can move in, how will we eat? Of course we have little food, because we don't have any money."

In Tallinn, many arrivals are being put up in hotels on a temporary basis. A reception center set up in the Kalamaja district was rapidly inundated and is soon to be replaced by a larger facility, it is reported.

Over 14,000 people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine had arrived in Estonia as of Friday. Earlier on in the week, social protection minister Signe Riisalo (Reform) had put the ceiling on the number of arrivals Estonia could cope with at 10,000.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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