VILNIUS – 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 plans to implement the new scheme starting April, says Social Security and Labor Minister Linas Kukuraitis.
He presented the plans on Monday during a visit to the Rukla refugee center in the Jonava district, central Lithuania, with Interior Minister Eimutis Misiunas.
"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," he told journalists.
Kukuraitis has said that the list of municipalities willing to accept the refugees would be provided by NGOs by the end of March based on the readiness of individual municipalities, i.e., availability of the necessary infrastructure, a supply of housing for rent, ties with employees willing to hire refugees, etc.
The social security and labor minister emphasized that the biggest challenge for refugees was in connection to not speaking the local language and problems in finding jobs and housing.
According to data provided by the Interior Ministry, 254 refugees were relocated to Lithuania under the European Union (EU) program over more than a year: 229 from Greece and 25 from Turkey, however, merely a third stayed in Lithuania, as 142 refugees left Lithuania for another country of the European Union. Under the EU agreement, Lithuania has agreed to host 1,105 refugees by September of this year.