Next week, Estonia will be sending officials to Italy to conduct interviews with refugees there for the first time.
Liana Roosmaa, deputy director of the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department of the Ministry of the Interior, told BNS that a processing mission is to depart for Italy for the first time next week.
The files of six refugees have been compiled for Estonian officials. "We will proceed with a smaller number of files the first time," she said.
According to Roosmaa, Italy is to send Estonia as many files as the latter requests. She added, however, that Estonia has not yet decided how many files it will request per month in the future. "We want to see first how the first time goes," she said.
Estonia has asked Greece to forward 20 files per month.
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.
No additional refugees to arrive in immediate future
In the past four months, just two quota refugee families, consisting of a total of 11 people, have arrived in Estonia. One of the reasons behind this is the fact that Greek authorities have not sent any files of so-called quota refugees to Estonia since May.
This summer, Estonian officials also carried out a proceeding mission in Turkey, but the mission produced no results, as some refugees did not want to come to Estonia and the rest did not qualify for relocation, and the next such mission is to take place at the end of this fall, no additional refugees are to be sent to Estonia under the EU migrant distribution plan anytime soon.
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