Ikla border crossing still seeing steady stream of war refugees

PPA officials have also been giving stuffed animals and other toys to the children of those fleeing the Ukraine conflict, as in this photo from March 4.
PPA officials have also been giving stuffed animals and other toys to the children of those fleeing the Ukraine conflict, as in this photo from March 4. Source: ERR

Refugees from Ukraine are still crossing the border between Latvia and Estonia at Ikla, Pärnu County, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) says.

ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) found the situation quiet when reporting on the spot at noon on Monda, however.

Only three vehicles containing people fleeing Ukraine crossing in the space of an hour, though, the PPA said, that one snapshot does not give a true picture of numbers.

AK reported PPA personnel inspecting the vehicles of those arriving as refugees from the war, but most of these were processed quite quickly.

The arrivals were generally in their own vehicles, which had Ukrainian license plates.

One of the arrivals was a family from Odesa.

Maxim, who was traveling with his wife and two daughters to meet relatives in Tallinn, said: "What happens next? ... We hope everything goes well. We stayed with our mothers and fathers, in other words our children's grandparents, friends and 'comrades'."

Another arrival, Natasha, came from Kharkiv, scene of some of the worst destruction in the war so far, with her husband and their child, who is autistic.

Natasha said: "The city is completely destroyed. We have no home, no school or kindergarten, no country house; everything has been bombed. We were able to move the parents to another area. But the situation is just terrible," adding that the family's eventual destination was Finland.

The nearest city to Ikla crossing is Pärnu, about 60km to the north. The refugees' reception center is on Pikal street and housed in a former polic hose, Pärnu PPA chief Üllar Kütt said, though a new reception center is planned for the vicinity of the border checkpoint at Ikla.

AK reported dozens of arrivals fleeing the war in Ukraine congregating in Pärnu city government offices' corridors in the morning, though this number had fallen by the afternoon.

Mayor of Pärnu Romek Kosenkranius said that: "When a war refugee goes to the reception center, they will be given a local government address and a personal identification number. This is a temporary personal identification code, for one year and gives them all rights to health care, sick pay, unemployment benefits and opportunities to work, as well as health insurance."

Around 20,000 displaced persons fleeing the conflict have arrived in Estonia so far, according to PPA estimates, while local governments in towns such as Tartu and Narva have been experiencing overload in accommodating them, and are having to rely partly on volunteers. Tallinn's current reception center on Niine street in the Kalamaja district is set to be replaced with a larger facility elsewhere.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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