The refugees accepted by Estonia under the EU quota system who have left for other countries in the EU will be sent back to Estonia sooner or later, Ministry of Social Affairs Deputy Secretary General on Social Policy Rait Kuuse said in response to a report on refugees currently not in Estonia.
According to the Ministry of Social Affairs, families of quota refugees are leaving Estonia in hopes that conditions in some other European country are better, Kuuse told BNS on Tuesday. "This is an elusive expectation, as it is not possible for these people to legalize their living in another country," Kuuse said, adding that this included working, sending their kids to school and applying for services and benefits. "It must also be taken into account that as they have obtained their status in Estonia, they will be sent back to us from other countries sooner or later."
Estonia has already seen this happen, when one individual who had left for Germany came back, as this person, who had received international protection in Germany, could not work or receive services and subsidies in Germany. This person was not one of those accepted by Estonia under the EU refugee distribution plan.
Kuuse said that Estonia has made additions to the information it provides to people interested in coming to Estonia under the EU refugee quota.
"Daily work is also being done with the families that are here now to raise their awareness that they are linked to Estonia and that leaving their place of residence will mean problems both when it comes to their children's education as well as their further integration," the ministry official said. "In addition, when they come back, they will not have the same conditions waiting for them here — the state does not cover costs related to the entry into a housing rental agreement for the second time. Integrating with the local community is important as well."
Estonia has been internationally recognized for its solutions concerning the acceptance of refugees, Kuuse noted. "But just like we aid two years ago, we are taking our time to gain experience," he explained, adding that the government has no plans at this point to make changes to the system of subsidies available to refugees. More attention needs to be paid to opportunities for adults to participate in the labor market and the role of municipalities.
"Our current experience shows that things go more smoothly when the local government and the community are the driving force — this is the direction in which our support system should develop as well," the ministry official added.
Officials from the Ministry of Social Affairs reported on Monday that nearly half of the refugees that have arrived in Estonia under the EU's migrant distribution plan are not currently in the country, noting that four families that are absent have been away from Estonia for more than 90 days.
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.
Syrian family settled in Põlva to leave for Germany
A refugee family from Syria that arrived in Estonia in April, whose fate in Europe is being followed by Time magazine, has chosen to leave Estonia and head to Germany.
The family of four arrived in Estonia in April and was provided accommodation together with another Syrian family in the Southeastern Estonian town of Põlva.
This week, the family decided to leave Estonia for Germany, it appears from a post on the Instagram page following the fate of several Syrian refugee families in Europe.
Once in Germany, the family intends to ask for asylum again.
Editor: Aili Vahtla