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Ukrainian refugees struggling to find housing, childcare in Estonia

Tallink's passenger ferry M/S Isabelle will act as temporary accommodation for refugees fleeing war in Ukraine.
Tallink's passenger ferry M/S Isabelle will act as temporary accommodation for refugees fleeing war in Ukraine. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Thousands of newly arrived Ukrainians looking for work in Estonia are struggling to find longterm accommodation and childcare.

More than 2,000 refugees given temporary protection have found work in the country so far, Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center) said, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Wednesday.

He said the majority of people — 90 percent — are working full-time.

One person who has had some success is Liubov Boiko. She now works in the emergency department of the West Tallinn Central Hospital as a care worker after arriving on March 5. Boiko said she has not encountered many problems so far.

It is not yet known how much Ukrainians are being paid as many people have just started, but there has been media reports that some employers are trying to pay them less than Estonian workers.

Boiko did not tell AK exactly how much she earns.

"Right now it is enough. Volunteers are helping us right now and we're not paying for housing. Right now, we have enough to live on. My child has already started kindergarten," she said.

But not everyone has been so fortunate.

Earlier his week, supermarket Maxima announced it had employed 109 refugees who are being paid the same as locals - between €800 and €900 a month.

The company's Estonian human resources manager Lea Kimber said people have been employed as sales assistants, drivers and in various other positions.

Ideally, Maxima would hire more Ukrainians as 500 applications have been submitted but this is difficult because people do not have stable accommodation and childcare, Kimber said.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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