Estonian local governments requesting additional support for refugees

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

Municipalities in central Estonia are requesting additional support from the government to cope with the arrival of Ukrainian war refugees. So far, the costs are being borne by local governments and volunteers.

There are 50 war refugees living in Türi municipality in Järva County and their biggest problems so far have been registering for temporary protection and finding accommodation.

One refugee Anna and her teenage children Igor and Aleksandra arrived in Estonia on March 8. Her husband works as a welder in Imavere. The family has a temporary home in Türi at a hotel and they have are not expected to pay rent.

It has been difficult to apply for temporary protection as the nearest Police and Border Guard Board service point is 100 kilometers away and there is a backlog.

"On March 30, we will travel to Tartu, because the nearest free time in Tallinn was on April 18," Anna, who fled from the Poltava region of Ukraine, told ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Tuesday.

The family wants to stay in Järva County but it depends on where the engineer can find work.

Hotel owner Indrek Mardo has offered the new arrivals temporary housing and is not asking for money. There are no state-funded places to stay in Järva County.

"When we need to accept people and give them free accommodation, we give it away and we live like a family and take it a day at a time," he said, describing the situation.

Kati Nõlvak, head of the social department of the Türi rural municipality government, told AK the council is negotiating with the Social Insurance Board.

Sixty refugees have settled in the city of Paide and some are still waiting to apply for temporary protection. So far, they have not been able to apply for subsistence benefits.

"We expect the state to process applications for temporary protection more quickly, then we will be able to offer people subsistence benefits," said Mayor of Paide Siret Pihelgas.

Two hundred war refugees have arrived in Järva County since Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24.

Approximately, 22,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Estonia since the outbreak of the war and approximately 6,000 said they are in transit. However, as Estonia has a population of 1.3 million this still means arrivals total more than 1 percent of the population.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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