bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Ceturtdiena 23.11.2017 | Name days: Zigfrīda, Zigrīda, Zigrīds
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

Jerošenko: Ušakovs offers unhealthy policy, Concord is used as Lembergs’ «satellite party»

«Cooperation between Concord [also known as Harmony] and Airvars Lembergs’ Union of Greens and Farmers has always existed. It existed even before Concord first appeared in Riga City Council. The situation is the same in the Saeima, even though Concord is in the opposition. Still, in situations when one or the other matter important to Lembergs appears, one does not have to be a great politologist to notice the ties between those parties...

Bosnian Serb commander punished with life imprisonment for Srebrenica

The UN the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia handed a life imprisonment sentence to Ratko Mladić after it found the former commander of Bosnian Serb forces guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in the 1990s during the Bosnian War.

EC positive about Latvia’s 2018 budget project

Based on the conclusion from the European Commission, Latvia’s budget project for 2018 fully fits conditions listed in the Stability and Growth Pact. In accordance with EC’s estimates, the structural balance of Latvia’s general budget is viewed at -1.8% of GDP. Government budget expenditures, on the other hand, are expected to grow by 7.1 percentage points.

Producer price level in Latvia declined 0.2% in October

Compared to September, the level of producer prices in Latvian industry dropped by 0.2 % in October 2017. Prices of products sold on the domestic market decreased by 0.5 %, while prices of exported products went up by 0.1 %.

Vaškevičs feels «harsh but fair» attitude from court justice system in Austria

Former deputy director of Latvia’s State Revenue Service Vladimirs Vaškevičs, who is accused of bribery and whose extradition from Austria has been a priority for Latvian authorities for some time now, says he feels «harsh but, thank God, fair» attitude from the Austrian court justice system.

Antāne: lost Russian cargoes have cost Latvia nearly 50 million in nine months

Latvia’s economy has lost nearly EUR 50 million in nine months because of missed Russian transit cargoes. While Russian Railway had approved 90% of oil and coal cargoes for transit through Ventspils port at the beginning of the year, this amount had declined to a mere 5% by September, says Baltic Association – Transport and Logistics President Inga Antāne.

In pictures: Museum of painter, Holocaust survivor Bak opened in Vilnius

In Vilnius, a museum to Jewish-Polish painter Samuel Bak has been opened. During the occupation of Lithuania by the Nazi Germany, the artist survived the Holocaust in the country.

Ratio of old people and invalids on a rise among unemployed people

The total number of unemployed people has been decreasing in recent years. However, the ratio of old people and invalids continues increasing in the ranks of unemployed people. On top of that, the number of lasting unemployed people remains high and largely unchanged in the country.

Saaremaa looking into possible ferry traffic to Latvia

The local government of the largest Estonian island is looking into possible interest of five shipping companies in opening ferry traffic between Saaremaa and Latvia.

Balta: exhaustion and overload are the most common causes for accidents at work

More than EUR 20,000 has been paid in compensations for injuries acquired at work this year so far, according to information from insurance association Balta. Compared with the same period of last year, the number of accidents has grown 40%.

Estonian town tempts population to reregister with spa in Latvia and 100 euro payment

The town of Keila, located 25 kilometres away from Tallinn, has started a one-and-a-half month campaign to motivate its residents to register back in the town as many of them have registered in the Estonian capital, which grants free public transport to its population.

EU to impose fine to Poland if logging in Białowieża forest not stopped

The European Court of Justice has issued to Poland a 15-day deadline to provide proof that the country has fulfilled the court's ruling to quit logging in the ancient Białowieża forest threatening with a daily fine of 100 000 euros if it fails to prove this.

Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks: building restoration will be next year’s priority

Rīgas namu pārvaldnieks plans to focus on improving technical state of its managed buildings. The company plans to restore several dozen buildings next year and up to 100 buildings a year in the next five years, says RNP chairman Aivars Gontarevs.

LCB: even deputies should fulfil their promises

Latvijas ceļu būvētājs, which is an association in Latvia with ties to multiple road and bridge construction companies, invites deputies to support the proposal for the restoration of the State Road Fund, BNN was told by the association’s chairman Andris Bērziņš.

Russia rejects claims of nuclear accident despite radioactive cloud over France

Russia has stated that a nuclear accident has not taken place in its territory although its weather service has found high amounts of traces of a radioactive isotope.

Study: taxes for business in Latvia – the most attractive among Baltic States

Latvia’s tax system is the most attractive among Baltic States and 13th most attractive among 190 countries of the world, according to the latest study performed by the World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers on tax systems around the world.

Turkish journalist punished with prison term for tweet

A court in Turkey has sentenced on Tuesday, November 21, a journalist from opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet to three years behind bars over accusations of spreading terrorist propaganda in relation to a post on Twitter, which had been briefly on the microblogging site this spring.

Latvia – 35th country in the world ICT development-wise

This year Latvia reached 35th place in the world in terms of development of information and communication technologies, as mentioned in the latest report by UN International Telecommunication Union.

Instant payment infrastructure comes online in Europe

On Tuesday, 21 November, instant payment infrastructure will be introduced across Europe. On top of that, European banks’ founded EBA Clearing will also introduce its RT1 instant payment system. The European-level solution has also been coordinated with the instant payment processing infrastructure prepared by the Bank of Latvia in August 2017, as reported by the bank.

Police dismantle criminal group that caused damage worth seven million euros to the state

Latvian State Revenue Service’s Finance Police dismantled a criminal group in November 2017. A total of 34 searches were performed and two people were found suspect. The criminal group performed tax avoidance and money laundering operations, causing damages worth nearly seven million euros to the state, BNN was informed by SRS.

Zariņš: deputies who vote for the state budget without amendments will have breached their vows

It is unacceptable for the Saeima coalition to follow the Cabinet of Ministers and like the Cabinet of Ministers breach laws during the budget approval process, says Saeima member Ivars Zariņš, adding that deputies who vote for the budget without amendments will thereby have to breach the vow they had previously made to the Latvian nation.

Estonia’s ruling Centre Party shows door to 31 competing members

The leadership of Estonia's Center Party has accepted the proposals of the party's local branches on fellow members, who ran in the Estonian municipal elections this autumn from a separate list, and expelled 31 members from the political party.

Pabriks: state interests should be held higher than party interests

Latvia cannot be allowed to drown in provincialism. It is in the country’s interest to maintain a course towards European and NATO values. In a situation when the number of centric and European-oriented parties is large, it is becoming harder and harder, because it leads to political fragmentation, and the main goal of it is reaching the 5% barrier during elections, not ensuring growth and development for Latvia, says MEP Artis Pabriks.

Reacting to e-commerce growth, Omniva rushes to expand its parcel locker network

Estonian state-owned postal company Eesti Post, which operates the Omniva brand, stated that it will broaden its network of parcel lockers expand its current parcel machines up until Christmas.

Programme: introduction of ‘honest’ taxi counters is stuck

Taxi drivers that had to replace their counters as far back as 15 October, continue delaying the process, as reported by De Factor with reference to State Revenue Service.