Nearly half of the refugees that have arrived in Estonia under the EU's migrant distribution plan are not currently in the country and four families that are absent have been away from Estonia for more than 90 days, officials from the Ministry of Social Aaffairs said on Monday.
Triin Raag, head of international protection policy at the Ministry of Social Affairs, told BNS that besides the two families that have previously been known to be outside of Estonia for more than 90 days, another two families have now been away for that long. Both families came to Estonia from Greece this January. The seven-member family was sent to live in Tartu and the five-member family to live in Põlva.
According to Raag, a total of four so-called "quota refugee" families have been away from Estonia for more than 90 days. The first of these is a three-member Syrian family that came to Estonia from Greece last November and was sent to live in Tartu. The second family, a six-member Syrian family, arrived in Estonia from Turkey last August and was sent to live in Viljandi.
This means that 21 quota refugees in total have not been in Estonia for at least 90 days.
In addition, 11 refugee families totaling 50 people are likewise not currently in Estonia, however as they have not been away for more than 90 days, they cannot be deemed as having left Estonia for good. Thus 71 of the total of 150 quota refugees to have been relocated to Estonia since 2016 are currently not in Estonia.
In addition, an Iraqi family of five has voluntarily returned to their country of origin under the VARRE program of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
All refugees who have arrived in Estonia have the right to travel within the Schengen area during no more than 90 days in any 180-day period.
Estonia has pledged to accept 550 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece over a period of two years under the EU migrant relocation and resettlement plan.
Editor: Aili Vahtla