Volunteer groups in the eastern border city of Narva are stepping up to help newly arrived Ukrainian refugees who are in transit to other countries.
Around 400 refugees arrive in Estonia every day and approximately half do not plan to stay in Estonia. The Ukrainians are mostly from southern Ukraine, including the besieged city of Mariupol and some of them were deported to Russian-held territory.
Many of the new arrivals do not know what they will do or where they will go next. In Narva, several volunteer groups have sprung up which are providing help, ETV's "Aktuaane kaamera" reported on Wednesday.
One initiative "Friends of Mariupol" (Друзья Мариуполя в Эстонии / Mariupoli Sõbrad) has recently opened a center on Vaksali tänav which offers assistance. Currently, 30 people from Mariupol are receiving help from the volunteers there.
"It feels like half of Mariupol have passed through. They have no other way to get out of Ukraine's occupied territories. People are often confused, we share information about how they can proceed, additionally, we offer accommodation, food, we try to make their stay as comfortable as possible," said Ekaterina Romanova, the helpdesk coordinator.
Another volunteer Johanna Rannula, the head of the Narva Cultural Residency, is also assisting the refugees. Recently, two families stayed at the residency who were on their way to Germany.
But volunteers are also aware that more help is needed as they cannot cope with the number of refugees arriving. The government has also been criticized for not providing help to people in transit.
"This cannot be done indefinitely, because people [volunteers] will lose their motivation and they will burn out if institutions or the government does not assist," Rannula said.
In the coming days, the city of Narva will open a help facility close to the border.
So far, 37,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Estonia with the intention of staying for the foreseeable future. Approximately 24,000 have already applied for temporary protection. The majority are staying in Tallinn or Harju County.
Editor: Helen Wright