Tallinn deputy mayors: Vital we help refugees arriving in capital

A sign in Ukrainian, English, Russian and Estonian, outside the refugee reception center in Tallinn.
A sign in Ukrainian, English, Russian and Estonian, outside the refugee reception center in Tallinn. Source: Patrik Tamm / ERR

Two of Tallinn's deputy mayors met with a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Office for the Nordic and Baltic Countries on Friday, to discuss the situation of Ukrainian refugees in Estonia.

One of the two deputy mayors, Betina Beškina (Center), called it imperative to help those people who have escaped from the war.

She said: "We need to reach out to them and create the conditions for them to be able to adapt in our country with dignity and, if possible, independently."

"Nearly 9,000 people fleeing the war in Ukraine, mostly women and children, have been received in Tallinn through the war refugee reception center," Beškina added, via a Tallinn City Government press release.

The arrivals' main questions were about employment, accommodation, schools and kindergartens, all of which implies that the people want to make a contribution to Estonian society, Beškina said.

The other deputy mayor of Tallinn, Vladimir Svet (Center) joined Beškina in meeting with Kari Käsper, Associate Legal Officer at the UNHCR's Office for Nordic and Baltic Countries.

Kari Käsper said: "We are currently witnessing the largest movement of refugees in Europe since the Second World War."

"This is an immense challenge: More than three million people have now had to leave their homeland, and more are arriving every day. It is commendable that the City of Tallinn and NGOs in Estonia have responded very quickly," Käsper went on, noting that even should the conflict come to an end, not all those who fled will be able to return any time soon, making the plans for help more long-range, and measurable in years.

The UNHCR is in a strong position to help, given its expertise built up over more than seven decades, Käsper added. "In essence, the primary needs of refugees are similar everywhere."

The first reception center for people fleeing the Ukraine conflict opened at Niine 2 in Kalamaja in early March. 

The UNHCR protects people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution More than 28 million refugees around the world are in need of help, the organization says.

Tallinn City Government's refugee information page is here (in English) and here (in Russian).


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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