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Latvia will accept 250 refugees in 2 years

BC, Riga, 07.07.2015.Print version
During an emergency Cabinet meeting yesterday, the government approved Latvia's position on providing asylum for refugees, agreeing that Latvia could take a total of 250 immigrants within the next two years, reports LETA.

Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma (Unity) told reporters after the meeting: "The government has decided that Latvia is prepared to voluntarily accept refugees, and that this is a one-off measure." The government has discussed "all the complicated matters" pertaining to migration problems in the south of the European Union.


The government is to reach agreement yet on "how exactly refugees will reach Latvia and become integrated," added Straujuma. The number of refugees to be accepted by Latvia is correlated with the country's population and gross domestic product figures, she explained.


Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis (Unity) reminded that the European Commission had initially proposed a mandatory system of quotas, and according to initial estimates, Latvia was to accept 737 people. However, Latvia insisted that member states decide the problem on a voluntary basis.


It is currently estimated that Latvia could be paid EUR 6,000 per refugee, and that the funding will be spent on increasing Latvia's capacity and organizing Latvian language classes for the refugees. Most of the refugees will be accommodated by the "Mucenieki" center, said Kozlovskis, adding that he was not ruling out that the center's capacity could be sufficient. The center can accommodate up to 200 asylum seekers at one time, but the said 250 refugees would arrive in Latvia over a period of two years.


Accepting refugees is a short-term solution, and it is important to implement measures so that fewer refugees come to Europe. Kozlovskis believes that Latvia could not refuse accepting refugees as "none of us know how the situation in Ukraine will unfold." If the situation in Ukraine becomes worse, Latvia may be faced with "very serious" flow of refugees from the east, in which case Latvia will turn to the EU for help, explained Kozlovskis.


He went on to say that Lithuania was prepared to take 370 and Estonia 200 refugees.


The government did not vote on the matter, except that Culture Minister Dace Melbarde, who is a member of All For Latvia-For Fatherland And Freedom/LNNK that opposes the coming of refugees to Latvia, expressed a special position on the matter, said Straujuma.


As reported, EU leaders have agreed that the EU could take in 60,000 refugees in the coming years, however, a specific solution on how to distribute the refugees throughout the bloc is yet to be agreed upon.

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