Estonia to take in next 160 Syrian refugees from Turkey

War refugees in Haapsalu (photo is illustrative)
War refugees in Haapsalu (photo is illustrative) Source: ERR

The police are currently processing the cases of 160 Syrian refugees to be resettled to Estonia as part of the EU-Turkey deal signed in 2016. The 160 are part of Estonia’s resettlement quota of 550.

Based on the European Union’s 2015 migration scheme, Estonia agreed to take in 20 applicants for asylum or international protection. This number was reached in February this year.

The cases currently being processed are part of the EU’s 2016 arrangement with Turkey, which for Estonia means taking in up to 160 Syrian refugees. The total quota of 550 individuals assigned to Estonia doesn’t change.

As the Police and Border Guard (PPA) stated, preference would be given to families and Syrians or Syrian citizens in the future as well. The 160 people to be taken in did not represent an increase of the quota, but part of the agreement on taking in refugees from Italy and Turkey, Liana Roosmaa of PPA’s citizenship and migration policy department said.

At the end of June Estonia had taken in 156 individuals in need of protection. Their countries of origin are Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

PPA are now processing an initial five Syrian refugee families including a total of 26 individual cases, all of them to be decided in August.

Estonian officials took over the 160 new cases from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Turkey in May this year. They spent five days interviewing them, performing background checks, and seeing how they would fit in with Estonian society.

The EU and Turkey agreed in March 2016 that illegal immigrants into the EU arriving on Greek islands from Turkey would be sent back, but that for every Syrian returned to Turkey the EU would resettle a Syrian refugee from Turkey to a member state.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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