Total of Ukraine refugees with Estonian temporary protection may double

September 1 2022 at the Kristiine High School and the Freedom School (Vabaduse Kool), both in Tallinn.
September 1 2022 at the Kristiine High School and the Freedom School (Vabaduse Kool), both in Tallinn. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

If a forecast 75,000 people fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine and who have applied for temporary protection arrive in Estonia by year-end 2023, changes to education schedules including potentially reinstating remote learning or staggered shifts will be needed, the Ministry of Education and Research says.

Liina Põld, Deputy Secretary General for general education and youth policy at the ministry, said that should the above figures materialize, enforcing compulsory schooling in-class will no longer be viable.

She said: "In this case, you will have to switch to studying via several shifts, or to remote learning, which as of the present is not considered an obligation for schools."

Põld said that at present there are close to 17,000 Ukrainian school-children aged up to 19 in Estonia, 7,913 of whom are registered in the national education information system.

Seventy-seven percent of Ukrainian children study in schools which use Estonian as the principal language of instruction, while almost 20 percent take part in language immersion classes; the remaining and 22.4 percent study in schools which teach in Russian.

The most major burden is in Tallinn, where more than 50 percent of the total are in school.

As of November 6, there were 39,277 war refugees who had received temporary protection in Estonia, which is almost half the figure the Ministry of the Interior has forecast for the end of 2023.

The Riigikogu's special committee on state budget control heard from Secretary General of the Ministry of the Interior Tarmo Miilits, who said that his ministry estimates that 75,000 war refugees who have requested temporary protection will arrive in Estonia by the end of 2023, a figure to which must be added those who hold the status of "tourists" or who are passing through Estonia in transit.

Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo (Reform) told the committee, at a meeting on November 7, that nearly 61,500 people have arrived in Estonia (as of November 14, 62,457 - ed.) and who want to stay in Estonia. 

Thirty-seven percent of these are without temporary protection, and do not need help and support from the Estonian state. There is no additional check on these people or whether they are still physically in Estonia, however.

Forty-four ​​percent of the remaining people are registered in Estonia with a precise address, Riisalo said, while 24 percent are registered with a specific local government, 10 percent are still registered in Ukraine, and 14 percent are unregistered or registered in places unknown.

According to education ministry, among these are also 1,200 school-age children who are not in the register of any local government and who have not been assigned a school place.

Sulev Liivik, head of the local government financial management department at the Ministry of Finance, said that in August, there were 5,000 Ukrainian refugees in Estonia who were registered for tax residency purposes, bringing in a total of around a million euros' tax take.

According to the statistics from the Social Insurance Board (SKA) dated November 14, ie. Monday, 114,969 Ukrainian war refugees have crossed the Estonian border since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.

Of these, 62,457 have remained in Estonia and 52,512 have moved on. 

The PPA submits the number of applications for temporary protection to the SKA on Monday evening. 

As of November 6, 39,277 war refugees had received temporary protection from Estonia.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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