The Social Insurance Board (SKA) has expanded its info point at Tallinn Bus Station in order to better assist war refugees from Ukraine arriving in Estonia and at the bus station itself in particular. The capital's main bus station has received massive numbers of refugees arriving by bus — particularly from the eastern border — in recent months.
"By expanding the info point at Tallinn Bus Station, we want to offer traumatized war refugees help and counseling in a more peaceful environment," SKA crisis chief Kert Valdaru said according to a press release. "The need for this is clearly growing."
The info point at the capital city's central bus station has been well received by refugees, SKA said, noting that in addition to those refugees arriving straight from the eastern border, refugees from Ukraine already in Estonia are also coming there for guidance.
In the eight weeks SKA has operated an info point at Tallinn Bus Station, the agency has provided counseling for thousands of people as well as directed 2,286 incoming refugees to temporary accommodations.
Located en route from Narva to Tallinn, the 30 beds at the info point opened in Jõhvi two weeks ago have also seen constant use providing emergency accommodations for refugees, including those in transit.
According to Valdaru, staff at the Jõhvi location have already helped four cats, five dogs and two ferrets that have been brought along by refugees as well.
Following the conclusion of the emergency response plan for mass immigration in mid-May, when SKA took back over the leading role in Estonia's response to war refugees arriving from Ukraine, refugee reception centers located in Tartu and Pärnu were converted to SKA info points.
The agency also opened an info point at Tallinn Bus Station in April, and a fourth one in Jõhvi on June 2.
Open 24/7, SKA's refugee information points are located at Tallinn Bus Station (Lastekodu 46), Pärnu (Pikk 18), Tartu (Riia 179a) and Jõhvi (Viru 5A).
A SKA contact person is also working at the border checkpoint in Narva, who can also help get those who need it to the info point in Jõhvi.
More than 70,000 refugees
Since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in late February, Estonia has received 42,257 war refugees from Ukraine, among them 12,570 minors. The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) has registered the entry of 70,369 war refugees into Estonia, 28,112 of whom were in transit, i.e. en route to other countries.
As of June 12, a total of 27,489 refugees from Ukraine had applied for temporary protection.
Editor: Aili Vahtla