Estonians stepping up to help Ukrainian war refugees

War refugees from Ukraine.
War refugees from Ukraine. Source: Patrik Tamm / ERR

As more refugees arrive in Estonia, more Estonians are reaching out to offer their help. So far, approximately 20,000 refugees have arrived in Estonia and around a third are children.

ETV's weekly news show "Aktuaalne kaamera. Nadal" looked at how Estonians are helping newly arrived Ukrainians on Sunday.

Before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Tuulikki Oberschneider worked as a producer in film and advertising but now she is caring for refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Oberschneider and several friends drove to the Polish border with a van and offered people a lift back to Estonia. She said, at first, people were skeptical about her offer.

"They didn't know that there was a chance to escape yet, we just drove to the yard and started talking to them directly - we're going to Estonia, you can fit in this car. We all cried together, we talked about where to go, what was waiting, and the process took three hours," she said.

Now the Ukrainian family has been in Estonia for several days and has already registered at the reception center in Tallinn's Kalamaja district. There has been quite a lot of paperwork.

The reception center in Kajamaja. Source: Patrik Tamm / ERR

"At the moment, it seems to me that this Niine center and everything is ready for those who have someone here, who have acquaintances or relatives or some kind of family, but they have a problem with those families who have no one," Oberschneider said.

Several other families will arrive in Tallinn soon, transported here by Tuulikki and her friends, who will be in the same situation.

Hektor Container Hotel owner Sten Tikk is offering shelter to Ukrainians in Tallinn, Tartu and elsewhere. So far, the company has offered accommodation to 15 families.

"In the long run, we definitely need to think about solutions and how they will work. But I understand that the state has reached out and people are offered accommodation in various forms, we have not asked for money," said Tikk.

Tikk said that one of the most important things is to help refugees find work here.

"The Estonian state is small and reacts quickly. What has already been proposed, a solution where Ukrainians can start working, is the first thing that will help them if they can get over the shock," he said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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