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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 24.02.2024, 13:57

Estonia has the smallest amount of refugees among EU states

BC, Tallinn, 24.03.2014.Print version
The smallest amount of people apply for and get asylum in Estonia among European Union states and the UN estimates that Estonia could thus consider joining the programme of relocating refugees and helping them to enter the labour market fast, LETA/Public Broadcasting reports.

The European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström said that currently five EU states receive the majority of asylum seekers: Germany, France, Sweden, UK and Belgium. According to UN data, there are 92,000 refugees in Sweden and almost 170,000 in Germany.


In Estonia, the number of asylum-seekers has increased constantly since 2010 and last year there were 97 of them. The number of people who have received asylum has however fallen. Last year there were 7.


An international report, financed by the EU and published on Saturday, criticises Estonia's asylum policy: in foreign politics, the state stands for human rights and democracy while at the same time, people who are forced to leave their homeland behind, are not allowed into Estonia. Criticism was voiced in the report also regarding the living conditions of asylum seekers in Estonia.


"I visited the Harku detention centre. I don't think it is good to mix criminals, people waiting to be deported and asylum seekers who are waiting for a decision," said UN Refugees High Commissioner's European Bureau director Vincent Cochetel.


European Refugees and Expatriated People's Council secretary general Michael Diedring thinks that one of the important issues in the Estonian refugee politics is to help asylum seekers to the labour market quickly: as the result they will become active members of the society, they will pay taxes and learn the local language.


Both the fresh international report and high European officials recommend Estonia to join the UN programme of relocating refugees, in which currently 16 EU states participate. "We don’t ask Estonia to receive hundreds of refuges. But Estonia could in the near future provide protection and rescue some refugees the same way Estonians were rescued when they had to leave their homeland in the past," said Cochetel.


Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet said that Estonia is not ready to join the programme of relocating refugees. "We work with the people who come to Estonia as the first state in Europe and apply for refugee status here. But relocating inside Europe is not reasonable in the current situation," said Paet.


Paet added that should the situation become more critical in Ukraine and Crimea, we are ready to accept Ukrainian refugees.

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