Greek authorities have not sent any files for so-called quota refugees to Estonia since May, and as the last proceeding mission to Turkey produced no results, no additional refugees are to be sent to Estonia under the EU migrant distribution plan anytime soon.
"We don't know whether and when Greece will continue relocating refugees," Liana Roosmaa, deputy director of the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department of the Ministry of the Interior, told BNS.
Most of the refugees in Greece either have been relocated, are waiting to be relocated or it has been decided that they will remain in Greece, and according to the ministry official, Greek authorities have not forwarded the files of any refugees to Estonia for conducting proceedings since May.
From the moment Estonia sends a request for refugees' files to be submitted for processing, the process of relocating and resettling the refugees takes approximately two months, Roosmaa explained. Thus only two quota refugee families have arrived in Estonia over the past four months.
The latest refugee family to arrive in Estonia under the EU migrant distribution plan was a family of five from Syria who arrived in July and was sent to live in the Northeastern coastal town of Kunda; an Iraqi family of six also arrived in Estonia in June. No quota refugees have arrived in the country during the months of August or September.
Estonian officials have also carried out proceedings in Turkey for relocating refugees to Estonia. "At present, no one is to arrive from Turkey anytime soon," Roosmaa said, adding that another proceeding mission was conducted in Turkey this summer, but some refugees did not want to come to Estonia and the rest did not qualify for relocation. The next such mission is to take place at the end of this fall.
Estonia to begin interviewing refugees in Italy
This month, Estonia will conduct a proceeding mission in Italy, where six people will be interviewed. According to the official, this will mark the first time Estonia carries out such a mission in Italy.
Estonia has been in talks with Italy since the relocation and resettlement program was launched, but until now had not reached an agreement due to Italy not wanting to allow Estonia to carry out refugee interviews there, as it has done in Greece and Turkey.
A total of 161 refugees have been relocated or resettled in Estonia from Greece and Turkey since the EU program was launched, 84 of whom are either not currently in Estonia or have left the country permanently. Thus, 77 quota refugees currently reside in Estonia.
Estonia has pledged to accept 550 asylum-seekers from Italy and Greece over a two-year period under the EU migrant relocation and resettlement plan.
Editor: Aili Vahtla