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Third of Ukrainian refugees need help finding accomodation in Estonia

Ukrainian war refugees arriving in Tallinn in March 2022.
Ukrainian war refugees arriving in Tallinn in March 2022. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Approximately a third of the 22,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Estonia so far need state support to find accommodation. The majority of new arrivals are currently staying with friends or family.

On Monday, 1,500 new refugees arrived in Estonia from Ukraine, ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported on Tuesday evening.

The majority were taken to Pärnu, Tartu, Rakvere and Tallinn after entering the country via the Ikla border point in southern Estonia. They will be provided with physical support, tested for coronavirus and then registered.

Meeli Hunt, the coordinator of the Tallinn Refugee Center, told AK: "Registration is necessary so that we know how many people we have in the city. How many people are moving on, where they are going, whether they need a hotel, whether they need any other services, whether they have clothes, whether they have basic necessities."

Questions are also asked about children and if they need to attend kindergarten or school.

The majority of refugees are women and children. This is because men Ukraine has banned men aged 18-60 from leaving the country.

On Tuesday, AK spoke to some people outside the reception center in Tallinn's Kalamaja district.

Ukrainian refugees in Tallinn. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

One new arrival, Aljona said she does not plan on putting her child in a kindergarten as her plan is to return to Ukraine as soon as possible.

Another woman told the show why she chose to come to Estonia: "I was born in Tallinn, but I lived in Kharkiv, Ukraine, for 25 years. I brought my children here from Tallinn on March 9."

But some people have arrived in Tallinn with no family connections. Valentina told AK she now needs to find a long-term place to live and work.

"I know where we're going to live now. I know what we're going to eat. I understand where we're going to live and stay today, tomorrow and the coming months. But there is a big question mark over everything else because we don't know how long we have to be here. That's why we're planning to find a place to live and work. This is my first time in Estonia," she said.

Tatiana told AK: "We want the war to end tomorrow and we can go home. We are here because there is a war and our children need security and education."

So far, fewer than 5,000 refugees have required state assistance to find accommodation but this number is growing. There are 4,200 places and housing can be offered for one month.

War refugees from Ukraine. Source: Patrik Tamm / ERR

Communications manager for the Estonian Refugee Council Madle Timm said during this month the organization will try and find longer-term rental accommodation for them.

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), which is managing the arrivals process, said it is likely European Union support will kick in soon.

"At one point, it is very likely that relocation mechanisms from across the European Union will also come into play," said PPA crisis manager Egert Belitšiv.

Funding given to the Estonian Refugee Council is covering the cost of evacuations from the Polish border. It is thought they will continue to organize departures for another three weeks.

Since February 27, approximately 22,000 refugees have arrived in Estonia from Ukraine, around 40 percent have been children. Of the total, 6,000 said they do not plan to stay in Estonia and are transiting the country.

Estonia has a population 1.3 million so the new arrivals already number 1 percent of the population.  

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Editor: Helen Wright

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