Refugees start moving out of Tallinn's hotels

A hotel in Tallinn.
A hotel in Tallinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Ukrainian refugees who moved into hotels in Tallinn must start to leave their temporary accommodation. Not everyone will be able to stay in the capital.

ETV's evening news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported suitcases had been packed on Wednesday at Viru Hotel and refugees staying at the Metropol and Tallink hotels must do the same on Thursday.

Approximately 900 refugees have been staying in hotels in the capital, but not all will be able to stay in the county.

Head of the Victim Support Department of the Social Insurance Board Jako Salla told AK it is inevitable that people must vacate the rooms as preexisting bookings need to be kept.

Salla said, while some people may initially think staying in a full-catered hotel is a good option, squashing several people into one room for several weeks is not easy.

If a person has already found a job then the agency is working to rehouse them nearby, he said. "If there are no such connections, we will see where there are enough places for school and kindergarten," Salla said.

The official said some people will also reject the offer of government accommodation if it means moving out of the country and will find their own housing instead. This has already happened in Pärnu when people were offered accommodation in Jõgeva County or Saaremaa instead.

The state is required to provide temporary shelter for four months for people granted temporary accommodation, Salla said. Attempts are being made not to move people around the country several times.

Families with children are being prioritized. Apartments previously used by the Defense Forces also became available on Wednesday where families can stay permanently.

Another option is to provide temporary accommodation areas by converting schools or gyms, but this can significantly impact local communities. Estonia looks at this option as a last resort.

Salla said Estonia has been able to offer better conditions than some other countries, so far.

On Wednesday, about 20 Ukrainians moved into Meriküla holiday complex near Tabasalu, Harju County and Mayor Robert Lippin said the site will house up to 60 refugees in the coming days.

"It is certainly not suitable for permanent residence [...] It is more of a hostel-type accommodation. But for a short stay of two months, three months, maybe four months, it is perfectly suitable," Lippin said.

While the complex is located in a picturesque spot, it is currently difficult to reach using public transport and is 13 km from Tallinn. Lippin said bus routes will be changed if necessary.

A kindergarten and schoolroom have already been set up for Ukrainian children. Jelena, who worked as a teacher in a kindergarten in Kyiv, said she is very satisfied with the conditions. The necessities are already in place and if something additional is needed it will be provided.

Currently, both the classroom and the playroom are empty, but more children will come in the coming days. 

"We are very grateful to the people of Estonia, the government and everyone who received us in this way," she said.

Initially, Harku Parish will pay for the accommodation but it is hoped the state will reimburse the council.

Since February 27, a total of 25,347 refugees have arrived in Estonia from Ukraine. The majority are staying with family and friends while 6,522 are living in government-provided accommodation. Hundreds of children have already been able to start school.

The number of new arrivals has fallen over the past 10 days.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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