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Asylum seekers in Europe refuse to relocate to Latvia

Photo: flickr.com.
Asylum seekers resettled in southern Europe refuse to relocate to Latvia. In addition, their relocation to this country is made more difficult by cooperation problems with local authorities, as stated in Interior Affairs Ministry’s report to the government.

In accordance with EU resettlement programme, 346 individuals were relocated to Latvia by mid-September this year. 178 of them are adults and 168 – children. Latvia still has to resettle 185 asylum seekers. Nearly all asylum seekers from Greece, 50% of asylum seekers from Turkey and only 14% from Italy have been resettled in Latvia.
 

Syria and Eritrea were the main origin countries of asylum seekers in 2016-2017.


It is mentioned in the report that the current trend is for asylum seekers to leave Latvia once asylum or alternative status is provided and travel documents are provided. So far Latvia has received two requests from EU member states to return asylum seekers.
 

Analysing the resettlement situation in the EU, Interior Affairs Ministry notes that among all member states, Baltics have completed their commitments in relation to terms and number of resettled persons the most successfully.
 

At the same time, the report also mentions certain problems associated with resettlement of asylum seekers and their integration in Latvian society.
 

The ministry notes that Latvia lacks effective cooperation, especially with Italian authorities. On top of that, personal cases of asylum seekers from Italy do not match Latvia’s profile. The resettlement process is difficult not just with Italy, but with Turkey as well. Processes in Turkey depend on local authorities. Because of that, there is a risk of deviation from the coordinated schedule.
 

The ministry also reports that persons approved for resettlement from Turkey to Latvia often refuse to relocate to the country and never show up for interviews.
 

Interior Affairs Ministry notes that problems also often surface when asylum seekers arrive in Latvia.
 

The most common problem is finding a translator to assist with provision of asylum seeker or alternative status. As for teaching Latvian language to refugees, there is always a cultural barrier and education environment unfamiliarity.
 

Social workers and mentors have minimal opportunities to offer assistance to asylum seekers when it comes to finding a home. This is because the amount of assistance for seekers of international protection is often insufficient to help find a home. This is because in most cases tenants have to secure considerable advance payments.
 

Considering that asylum seekers are more involved in raising their own children, there is limited opportunity for them to attend lectures and other activities. In addition, some of the women relocated to Latvia are not used to studying in the same room as men, which creates another problem for the education process.
 

Reasons why third country nationals find it difficult to enter Latvia’s labour market include lack of motivation or a person’s dissatisfaction with the host country’s offered job. In addition, people provided with asylum seeker status lack knowledge appropriate for Latvia’s labour market, and the wage level for manual labour is very low in Latvia. The aforementioned difficulties with learning Latvian language also make is hard for asylum seekers to qualify for more prestigious jobs.
 

Only a small number of refugees have basic English or Russian language skills.
 

The ministry has concluded that the size of benefits is also insufficient to cover housing rent and other living costs unless the person finds a job soon after arriving in the country.
 

Last year, a total of EUR 5,621,574 was spent on realization of the asylum seeker resettlement plan. This year’s costs are estimated at EUR 4,880,994. Funding is planned at EUR 1,439,879 for 2018 and EUR 1,285,253 for 2019.

BNN/LETA

30-10-2017
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