Ukrainian refugees interested in moving to Narva

Children's art at a reception center for war refugees in Ukraine.
Children's art at a reception center for war refugees in Ukraine. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Ukrainian refugees are interested in moving to Estonia's Russian-speaking border town Narva, attracted by the lower living costs and common language. But not all locals are keen to rent out their apartments.

Monday's "Aktualane kaamera" (AK) interviewed Svitlana, from Kharkiv, who fled to Estonia with her four-year-old son in April.

Initially, she stayed with relatives and started to look for her own place in the autumn.

But, at first, finding an apartment in Narva was difficult as residents did not want to rent to refugees. Some also did not want to make formal contracts or register renters living in their properties.

"Of course, it was insulting because I didn't come to a foreign country, with a suitcase containing my whole life and a child, of my own free will. On top of that, they tell you that they don't want you because you are Ukrainian," she told AK.

It took several months, but eventually, the pair found a place of their own. Their landlady was kind and also allowed them to register with the authorities.

Ukrainian refugees' registration center in Tallinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

"It was very important for me to have a contract and also that the landlord pays taxes because Estonia has been very good to us and it was important for me that everything was fair and legal," said Svitlana.

Despite these issues, the Social Insurance Board has noticed an increasing number of refugees relocating to the eastern border city.

Reasons for this include lower rents and cost of living. It is also important for parents that their children can recover from the shock of the war, communicate easily and make new friends.

"They turn to us from Tartu, Tallinn, Haapsalu. Russian is the home language of these refugee families, which is why people choose our city for its supportive environment. They want less stress, they want to settle in faster," said Alla Ojavere, senior specialist at Narva's Social Insurance Board branch.

Currently, 500 Ukrainian refugees have registered as living in Narva but the number is likely to be higher, AK reported. This is approximately 100 more than at the beginning of September.

Approximately 30,000 refugees have registered for temporary protection in Estonia.

Over 62,000 people initially expressed an interest to stay in the country after crossing the border, but it is not known how many have actually stayed.

The state is encouraging Ukrainian refugees to register so it can make better provisions and may soon increase temporary checks on the borders to help with data collection.

More than 100,000 Ukrainians have crossed the Russian-Estonian border to seek shelter in Europe and further afield since the full-scale war began in February. Approximately half have been in transit.


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Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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