The Ministry of Interior expects the number of Ukrainian refugees seeking temporary protection in Estonia to increase in the coming months as winter approaches because civilian infrastructure in Ukraine has been severely damaged.
Despite Ukraine's advances along the frontline, this winter is going to be harsh for a lot of people and many may flee, Tuesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.
While the number of Ukrainian refugees in Europe has reduced significantly since the spring, there are estimated to be 6.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs) inside Ukraine.
The Ministry of Interior believes several thousand more people will seek protection in Estonia this winter.
"If today we have accepted and granted temporary protection to slightly more than 35,000 people due to the combination of these bad circumstances, we consider it quite likely that 45,000 people may have received temporary protection in Estonia by the end of January," said Veiko Kommusaar, deputy chancellor of the Ministry of the Interior.
The state is not ruling out that the number of refugees may rise to over 50,000, he said.
Whether the winter is cold or warm will definitely have an impact, he said, as will how quickly communications and heating systems can be restored in liberated areas.
Triinu Ossinovski, head of Estonian humanitarian aid NGO Mondo, said a new wave of internal displacement has already started inside Ukraine. She said, for many people, it will not be possible to survive the winter in their homes because they have been damaged by the fighting.
"The leaders of our partner organization have told us that the more war refugees Europe accepts, even temporarily, the easier it will be for their country to cope with this difficult situation," said Ossinovski.
She said many things besides food are needed.
"If we look ahead to winter, for example, firewood, hot water boilers, simple generators, windows and doors, roofing tiles – all this is a topical today, and it is difficult to find these products in some areas," Ossinovski explained.
Chairman of the Estonian Refugee Council Eero Janson said the situation in Ukraine is complicated as several crises have hit at once. In addition to rapid inflation, many people have lost their homes and jobs.
"The Ukrainian government is putting together a rather expensive and extensive program – which costs over €800 million – which would give financial assistance for paying heating bills and other utility bills. Here, too, electricity prices have risen and all prices have risen due to inflation," he said.
Janson said the number of internally displaced people in Ukraine will probably rise in the near future, but it is not certain this will lead to mass emigration.
Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera