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Queues for papers refugees need to start work stretching into weeks

Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Unemployment Insurance Fund. Source: ERR

Estonia has seen the arrival of more than 22,000 Ukrainian refugees, while most of them cannot start working in Estonia without proof of having been granted temporary protection, with queues at the PPA stretching into weeks.

While applications for temporary protection are processed quickly, the Police and Boarder Guard Board (PPA) is having trouble registering all the applications, with queues stretching into weeks.

Over 120 Ukrainian war refugees have applied for a job with supermarket chain Maxima, while only 12 of them have had their documentation in order.

"Unfortunately, we are often forced to turn people back because of insufficient paperwork. It seems that the PPA is unable to issue proof of temporary protection quickly enough, which is why we cannot hire people as fast as they and we would like," Lea Kimber, head of HR for Maxima, told ERR.

Estonia had taken in over 22,000 refugees from Ukraine by Wednesday. Of them, 5,700 have been granted temporary protection. Early registrations number 8,000.

"We are trying for the Pärnu option today. It should be possible to get a temporary protection certification in a living line 24/7 in Pärnu. If it works, we are prepared to drive our Ukrainian applicants to Pärnu if that is what it takes," Kimber said.

A refugee reception center opened in Pärnu this week.

A spokesperson for the PPA said that the organization has done everything in its power to streamline the process – its service centers are open evenings and weekends.

"We are adding new registration slots for the coming weeks. We added 3,000 additional appointment slots yesterday for the next three weekends," said Egert Belitšev, head of Estonia's refugee crisis headquarters.

Estonian Trade Unions Confederation head Peep Peterson said that the PPA needs to ramp up the pace of processing temporary protection applications by at least tenfold. Refugees also cannot register with the Unemployment Insurance Fund without the document.

"Regarding unemployment benefits, a person only qualifies once they have been given temporary protection It is not an automatic thing and requires a PPA decision in each separate case. That is the main bottleneck our refugees are facing today," Peterson said.

Financial trouble seems to be approaching at an alarming pace for them, the union head added.

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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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