bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Monday 24.04.2017 | Name days: Nameda, Visvaldis, Ritvaldis
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

Vejonis and Reirs agree – orphanages should remain in the past

«The interest and needs of children should finally be at the centre of focus. The state and municipalities cannot be allowed to maintain a system of institutions that does not secure full and harmonic development for children,» said Latvia’s President Raimonds Vejonis during his meeting with Welfare Minister Janis Reirs on Monday, 24 April.

airBaltic commences the first charter flights with CS300 aircraft

Latvia’s national airBaltic airline and Tez Tours have commenced the first charter flights with the new Bombardier CS300 aircraft. Charter flights will connect Riga with Antalya, Heraklion, Bourgas and Rimini in the summer season.

Expert: technological companies lay the foundation for modern industry

Projects that are being worked on by science and high-technology companies based in Latvia lay the foundation for modern industry focused on the future, said the founder and manager of Commercialization Reactor acceleration platform Nikolajs Adamovics after the investors and partners day event.

State debt ratio in Latvia was the seventh lowest in EU last year

At the end of 2016, Latvia’s state debt was the seventh lowest among European Union member states, according to data published by Eurostat on 24 April.

Estonian parents increasingly refuse to vaccinate their kids

Estonian health officials have voiced concern that the number of parents refusing the chance of vaccinating their children against a number of infectious diseases is increasing in the northern-most Baltic country.

Rail Baltica’s predicted expenses – benefits outweigh the costs

The costs of Rail Baltica standard European railway line project could be equal to EUR 5.7 billion, as reported by Rail Baltica Global Forum 2017 EY partner in Baltic States Nauris Klava.

Murniece: Latvia still views EU as a strong and independent union of countries

Residents of the European Union expect safe and economic growth, said Saeima speaker Inara Murniece on Monday, 24 April, in her speech at a meeting of colleagues from EU parliaments in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Nordic countries re-launch assistance to Baltic Russian-language media

The Nordic Council of Ministers has stated it would continue supporting financially Russian-language media adhering to journalism standards and having a media-critical approach.

Cido commences exports of juices to Northern Africa

Baltic beverages producer Cido Group continues developing its export potential. The company has commenced exports of juices to Libya this year. This is the first African country that values juices produced in Latvia. Until now, Latvian juices have been exported to markets like China and United Arab Emirates, as reported by the company.

Large cities do not support initiative to increase taxes on alcohol and fuel

Next year’s budget gap is EUR 460 million, which in planned to be compensated by raising taxes for alcohol and fuel. Large Latvian municipalities do not support the government’s proposed tax reform, as reported by Nekā personīga.

Authorities identify multiple suspects in Skonto stadium sale’s criminal case

There are multiple suspects in the criminal process launched for the Skonto stadium’s sale, as reported by De Facto programme.

Catholic Pope sees migrant centres as concentration camps

Roman Catholic Pope Francis has characterised many migrant centres in Europe as concentration camps.

April’s last week will be cool and rainy in Latvia

Latest forecasts confirm that cold masses of air will remain in Latvia until the end of April and warmer masses of air are expected to enter the country at the beginning of May, as reported by Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Run-off to decide next French President

Centrist Emmanuel Macron has won the first round of the French presidential election, who will on May 7 compete against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. According to reports, it is the first time in six decades that neither of France's main left-wing or right-wing parties has had a candidate in the second round.

Karins: Theresa May’s stance on Brexit is unclear

British Prime Minister Theresa May personally did not support Brexit. Because of that, her personal stance in the upcoming Brexit talks is unclear, says Latvian MEP Krisjanis Karins.

Week in Lithuania. Imports from Belarus' Astravyets NPP restricted

Seimas on Thursday, April 20, adopted a bill to restrict electricity imports from the Astravyets nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus and other unsafe nuclear facilities in third countries.

Wider economic cooperation between Latvia and Singapore planned

As reported by Finance Ministry, work will be performed to establish wider economic cooperation between Latvia and Singapore, both in the field of tax administration and investments.

Lange: poor road quality causes drivers to lose more than one billion euros every year

Poor road quality in Latvia causes losses for drivers worth more than one billion euros every year, announced Janis Lange, chairman of Latvijas valsts ceļi, at an annual conference on Friday, 21 April.

Latvia and Lithuania continue work on single gas market’s development plan

Latvia and Lithuania continue working on single gas market development plan, BNN was told by Latvian Economy Ministry.

Belarus values Latvia’s experience developing e-management

Belarus values Latvia’s positive experience in development of e-management. Constructive cooperation in this field has provided residents in Latvia and Belarus with cheaper roaming tariffs and improved mobile broadband development, as reported by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry.

Poor skills in digital technologies can reduce one’s competitiveness on the market

Only 2% of board members in Latvia’s leading retail trade companies have skills working with digital technologies. The same applies to 6% of board members in transport and logistics companies, 4% - in energy companies and 0% in manufacturing companies, according to results of a study performed by personnel selection company Amrop.

Government decides not to support Ventspils’ involvement in Nord Stream 2

This week, Latvian government decided behind closed doors not to support the involvement of Ventspils Freeport in the Nord Stream 2 project, according to publicly available information.

Estonia to invest millions in IT and technology business development in regions

Close to 160 million euros are planned to be invested in developing the sector of information and communications technologies in Estonia outside larger cities, according to a state budget strategy for 2018-2021 by the Estonian government.

Bite buys Unistars and gains access to 5G frequency

Mobile communications operator Bite has bought telecommunications company Unistars, making a major step towards introducing 5G network in Latvia, as reported by Bite manager Kaspars Buls.

Study: Latvian businessmen feel threatened the most by increasing tax burden

Nearly all Latvian CEOs expect competition to grow in the future. In addition, this will happen in conditions of deficit of qualified workers, according to results of a study performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers.