Negotiations are currently underway to enable some of the Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in Estonia to resettle in Finland. According to a report by Finnish public broadcaster Yle, 50-100 Ukrainians per week could relocate from Estonia to Finland.
More than 60,000 Ukrainian refugees received temporary protection status in Estonia last year, while less than 50,000 have applied for temporary protection in Finland. However, Finland is a much larger country, with a population almost five times larger than that of Estonia. The onset of winter and the Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilian settlements have not initially increased the influx of refugees, but the number of Ukrainians who have already arrived tends to overwhelm Estonia.
Finland's Ministry of the Interior Secretary General Tarmo Miilits told ERR, that there have been initial talks between the two governments regarding ways Finland could help Estonia to better cope with its refugee intake, though precise details are still being discussed.
According to Finnish public broadcaster Yle, Finland has offered to take in between 50 and 100 Ukrainian refugees per week from Estonia, starting in January.
While Ukrainian citizens already have the right to move from one EU country to another, Estonia and Finland are planning to work together to organize transportation, which would specifically enable Ukrainians to move to Finland. It remains to be seen how many Ukrainians will take advantage of this opportunity and go to Finland, however, according to Tarmo Miilits, Estonia considers it important to continue to help refugees.
"The important thing is, that (arrangements for) their initial reception need to be ensured by us, no matter how many (arrive). When war refugees come to us, we need to ensure (they have) primary accommodation, primary food assistance, social assistance and psychosocial counselling. These are the things that certainly need to be provided at a high level. After that, for those who decide to stay here, it is important to work together to find better accommodation conditions," Miilits said.
Marina Makarenko, a Ukrainian citizen who is currently attending a language course in Estonia, hopes to start work in Estonia after completing it. Most of all, she wants to communicate with Estonians much more in order to better integrate into society.
"It's a different country and it's very difficult to know everything, such as Estonian traditions for example. (I ) still have very little interaction with the locals. The more we get to know how people live here, the closer we will get to understanding the culture and everything else," she said.
Editor: Michael Cole
Source: Yle, ERR