bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Monday 29.05.2017 | Name days: Raivis, Raivo, Maksis
LithuaniaLithuania

Major Lithuanian cities’ mayors frown at Government’s refugee relocation plan

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

With the refugee centre in Rukla in central Lithuania full and tensions in the settlement simmering, the Lithuanian Government has come up with a plan to shut eventually down the centre, relocating its dwellers to Lithuanian municipalities.

The burden of accommodating the foreigners would mostly fall on five largest Lithuanian cities, according the plan.

Many issues unsettled

None of the mayors, including Vytautas Grubliauskas, the Liberal mayor of Klaipėda on coastal Lithuania, has embraced the idea. Furthermore, the mayor sounded pretty critical speaking of the proposal to BNN.

«The news of refugees’ possible relocation directly to the largest cities, including Klaipėda, bypassing the refugee centre in Rukla in doing so, has caught me off guard.  All things involving municipalities ought to be solved engaging them, not like this – throwing down the order for us to fulfil,» said Grubliauskas.

In his words, if the proposal is pursued, the municipalities will stumble upon «plenty of issues» ahead.

«There are a lot of questions to be answered to the mayors, the local communities and all of us, as a matter of fact. First of all, what number of refugees are we talking about? Where can they be accommodated and what jobs can they be offered? When it comes to social housing, unemployment and other social issues, Klaipėda  mostly deals with the same problems as the other big cities,» the mayor said before adding, «But some problems, like the availability of social housing, is more acute here than elsewhere – we simply do not have it to offer.»

Shortage of social housing

The other persisting problem is the affordability of housing for rent, Grubliauskas says.

«For example, we have a Ukrainian family that has asked for our help in renting an apartment. However, we cannot afford paying the rent the owners want for it. Besides, let me tell the truth, many of the flat owners dislike the idea of renting their property to foreigners,» Grubliauskas said.

Meanwhile, Vytautas Grigaravičius, mayor of Alytus, a town in southern Lithuania, lambasted the idea, claiming that the city was «utterly unprepared» to receive refugees and had «neither accommodation for refugees, nor integration plans needed for their integration into the society.»

Panevėžys Vice-Mayor Petras Luomanas also frowned at the proposal, confessing that the news came as «a big shock» to the city’s residents – especially those lined up for social housing.

«I can reassure the people – the refugees definitely won’t be moved in social housing, the only thing we can offer refugees is a two-roomed apartment the municipality owns,» he said.

Two ministers visited Rukla

The Rukla refugee resettling idea has surfaced after Lithuania’s ministers of Interior Affairs and Social Security and Labour, Eimutis Misiūnas and Linas Kukuraitis, visited the centre to hammer out a plan on better refugee integration.

« One of the proposals that the ministry will bring is conducting a pilot project to move people straight to municipalities rather than via Rukla. The idea is to move a few families and see how the integration works, if the 2-3 months of institutional living is bypassed. We will examine and see whether it should be continued,» Kukuraitis said during the trip.

Lithuania has lately been the leader in terms of the numbers of refugees relocated under the European Union (EU) program. In over a year, 254 refugees were moved to Lithuania, including 142 who have already left the country and went to other EU states.  Lithuania has committed itself to accepting 1,105 refugees.

Currently, people relocated to Lithuania have to pass two integration barriers, namely, one at the refugee centre and the second in the municipality of designation.

In Kukuraitis’s words, Lithuania’s non-governmental organizations should «shortly» provide a list of municipalities willing to receive refugees directly from camps in Greece, Turkey or Italy, with the plans to implement the new scheme slated for April.

«The most important thing we agreed upon is to launch the pilot project that would ensure relocation of families from the countries with camps – so that they were moved directly to municipalities without the stop in Rukla … We have discussed the pilot model, we have to take a series of administrative steps to have the model operational from April on,» the minister underscored.

Unhappy asylum seekers

Many of the refugees in Rukla complain that the assistance Lithuania provides to them is insufficient. For example, Abdulrahman Alfahed, a Syrian who arrived in Lithuania with his family and was placed in the Rukla Refugee Centre in October, last year, was quoted by a Lithuanian TV channel as saying that his family of seven could not eke out with 500 euro they collect monthly in allowances.

In the beginning of the year, Lithuania’s Migration Department has not yet ruled whether the family is entitled to the status of asylum seekers, which frustrates the Afghanis a lot.

«We are a family of seven, five small children, me and my wife. How would I survive from the 500 euro I would receive if I had to rent a flat and support my family? Even if I worked, I would earn 700 euro at best. Could we really survive with the money? We couldn’t,» he fumed, confessing at the end of the interview that he was planning to bring his family to Turkey.

«There people are at least a little more caring, no-one will call me a «refugee» there. Here in Lithuania, the rights of refugees are not as ensured as in Syria. My wife has been ill for ten days, but so far she has yet to receive medicine,» he insisted.

Refugee allowances

New arrivals live in the Rukla centre for three months usually and the time for integration after moving to municipalities lasts up to 12 months. While living at the refugee centre, every individual receives a monthly grant of 61 euro. A one-time grant to help with settling down in municipalities is 204 euro, a settling family can be granted up to 612 euro. A full –size grant is paid for only the first six months, while between month 7 and 12 the grant is halved. As such currently monthly grants are 204 euro for a single individual, 306 for two and 408 for three, respectively decreasing to 102, 204 and 306 after half a year. If a family is comprised of more than three members, each member is allotted 51 euro extra, with the amount dropping to 26 after half a year. Furthermore, regardless of the number of family members, families can get no more than 510 euro for their daily needs. Beyond those mentioned, families can be granted 60 euro per child for kindergartens, a grant for small children (28.5 up to 2 years, 15 from 2 years of age) and other one-time grants.

Brawl between refugees and locals

Last November, an altercation involving refugees and local youth has put the centre in bad limelight, yet the Rukla elder, Gintas Jasiulionis, blamed the pugnacious Syrians as the culprits.

The police said then that they had launched an investigation into suspicions that two local youths had attacked two Syrian teenagers who were on their way from school back to the refugee reception centre. Two local teenagers, aged 14 and 15 years, were detained. In the elder’s words, the local teenagers gave an entirely different version of the incident, saying that it was the Syrians who attacked them and threw stones at them. The incident came a couple of weeks after two unknown youths assaulted two female migrants from the centre  – a Syrian and an Iraqi  – who were taking a walk through the town with a baby in a baby stroller.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.4761


Leave a reply

Construction costs in Latvia up 0.9% in April

Compared to March, the level of construction costs in Latvia increased by 0.9 % in April 2017. Labour remuneration of workers grew by 2.9 %, prices of building materials increased by 0.5 %, whereas maintenance and operational costs of machinery and equipment rose by 0.4 %.

Estonian wage growth slows down

The average monthly gross wage in Estonia, in the first three months of 2017, compared to the respective period last year, increased by 5.7%, Estonian statisticians have estimated and concluded that the country’s wage increase has continued to decelerate for year in a row.

Allied troops continue arriving in Latvia for military exercises

Saber Strike international military exercises in Europe will be taking place throughout 3 – 15 June. Allied troops and military vehicles continue arriving in Latvia. Because of that, there may be temporary traffic congestions on roads, as reported by Defence Ministry.

De Facto: millionaire Krumins’ family donates to UGF; four more houses to be built in Jurmala

Latvian businessman Julijs Krumins’ daughter donated EUR 19,000 to the Union of Greens and Farmers in May, as reported by LTV programme De Facto. Krumins has confirmed this, adding that «four more houses are to be built in Jurmala».

State law enforcement institutions join forces to combat crime

Latvia’s state law enforcement institutions join forces to combat crime. Work groups first meeting already held, as reported by State Police representatives.

Political fights for tax reforms planned to be concluded in Mid-June

Latvian government plans to view legislative drafts associated with the intended tax reform in the middle of June. Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola says the ministry is working hard to prepare legislative drafts. The objective is viewing legislative drafts in the government on 13 June, said the minister.

More rain expected in Latvia this week; air temperature to decline also

With the beginning of next week, weather in Latvia will be dictated by the south-east part of a cyclone. Central regions will likely experience short-term rain and even thunderstorms, as reported by the Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Germany: EU cannot fully depend on allies

The European Union cannot fully depend on the U.S. and UK anymore, the long-time German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has evaluated in election atmosphere.

Week in Lithuania. PM: Coalition isn't the best

Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, whose government has been in office for half a year, says that the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union and the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party differ in their philosophies and approaches to many issues.

BNN summary of the week: Estonian minister disapproves of NATO; Latvia’s tax system lags behind

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Business; Change; Future; Decline; Truth and Growth.

Municipal elections 2017: what do people say?

With municipal elections gradually coming close, BNN offers a compilation of opinions provided by experts from different industries. Short answers consist of thoughts about specific municipalities that affect respondents directly, and municipal administrations in general – what people expect from officials and what changes they expect from elections.

Trade of natural gas to legal clients in Latvia commences

Trade of natural gas to legal clients in Latvia has commenced. Latvenergo’s Elektrum product offers fixed-price contracts for 12-month supply period. The first gas supply contracts have been signed with clients in Latvia, the company reports.

Murniece: the biggest strength of Latvia’s parliament is public involvement

The biggest strength of Latvia’s parliament is the involvement of the public in resolution efforts of matters associated with child and women’s rights, the rights of disabled people, as well as security, tax policy and the European Union, says Saeima speaker Inara Murniece.

Corruption on decline in Lithuania, yet still remains troublesome

To wrap up the findings of a new corruption research ordered by the Special Investigation Service, an institution dealing with financial crimes in Lithuania, the situation is largely improving, yet not as fast as the service wishes.

Ventspils signs agreement with Chinese-Belarusian industrial park Great Stone

Vetnspils Freeport Authority and Ventspils High Technology Park signed an agreement yesterday with Chinese-Belarusian industrial park Great Stone, which is the largest infrastructure development project in Belarus, as reported by the freeport’s representatives.

Resignation filed by arrested Tallinn Deputy Mayor

The Deputy Mayor of the Estonian capital has stepped down from office after being arrested as part of a criminal case into violations of procedural restrictions of Tallinn procurement tenders.

Residents: situation in Latvia is developing in a wrong manner

54% of residents believe the situation in Latvia is currently developing in a wrong manner. A similar situation is noted in relation to the evaluation of the government’s work. 75% of respondents are critical about the government’s work. Only 17% of respondents are positive about the government’s work, according to results of Baltic International Bank Latvian Barometer.

Finance Minister: we have to be ready for flexibility in the reform plan

Currently we have to progress forward with the intended tax reform and prepare for a degree of flexibility, says Latvian Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola.

Zarins: unlike healthcare workers, Latvia’s roads are crumbling silently

Saeima deputy Ivars Zarins has submitted a proposal that offers restoring State Roads Fund and providing it with funding of 80% of excise tax for oil products. It is also proposed to divert income from vehicle operation tax and road use fee.

Price of oil slides 5%, though exporters decide to uphold production restrictions

Oil price has dropped by around five percent, even though oil-exporting countries have decided to maintain production limits until spring 2018.

Experts: role of free trade agreements to increase – especially with Asia

Latvian businessmen are already sufficiently active in several Asian markets. Their experience shows – these markets have great potential, according to representatives of the European Parliament’s Information Bureau.

Trump steps up pressure on NATO’s «indebted»

All NATO member states should pay their fair share of military expenses, has stated U.S. President Donald Trump in a meeting of NATO member states in Brussels.

Sunday expected to be summer-like hot in Latvia

This Sunday is expected to be summer-like hot, whereas the week after will be cold and rainy, as reported by Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Pensioner guide: old people are isolated from society in Latvia

«In my experience with social care, I was surprised by the dominating belief that the only thing old people need is elementary care – some food, a wash and a walk outside. Psychology of old people is something completely alien to people in Latvia,» says initiator of Pensioners Guide in Latvia Nelli Skadina.

SEB: reimbursements paid to nearly 340 loan clients over the past five years

In five years since the signing of the first loan payment insurance contract, reimbursements have been paid to nearly 240 SEB Bank clients who took loans and experienced unexpected difficulties after.