RIGA - The Latvian Information Centre for Newcomers (ICN) last year it provided consultations for 1,112 foreign citizens who have arrived in Latvia from 55 non-EU countries, LETA learned from the center
Gunta Viksne, Head of ICN, said that most often support has been provided to newcomers from Russia, Ukraine, India, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Syria. The most common subjects of consultation still remain employment, business opportunities in Latvia, family reunification and migration issues, for example, receiving and renewal of residence permits.
Psychologist services provided by the center were used by nine clients last year, receiving 51 consultations. All services to foreigners, who are citizens of the third countries, are free of charge.
The center employed 34 interpreters or persons with good knowledge of languages. Skills were needed for 22 languages: Arabic, French, Hindi, Urdu, Chinese, Dari, Farsi, Pushti, Turkish, Kurdish, Vietnamese, Tigrinya, Spanish, Mongolian, Georgian, Uzbek, Chakmi, Tamil, Tajik, Bengal, Sorani, and Persian. In total, the translation service was provided 831 times last year.
Viksne said that intermediation of interpreters was ensured not only for communication with the clients from various countries during consultations, but also (upon request) to specialists working with the foreigners, for example, for medical personnel at hospitals and out-patient clinics, State Employment Agency, banks, Riga Social Services, employers, various non-governmental organisations.
Significant support to organisation last year was provided by volunteers; they organised 18 informal education activities, 3 volunteer initiatives and 2 NGO cooperation events. The activities held last year were attended by 436 people from 30 countries across the world. In 2019, 73 new volunteers from 15 countries joined the ICN team.
ICN began its work as a one-stop-agency in May 2016. ICN Riga office operates as a coordinating center in Latvia. It provides assistance in dealing with problems of a particular customer and supports the ICN focal points/branches in the regions (in Cesis, Jelgava, Liepaja and Daugavpils) with regard to provision of services, ensures professional support to service providers in all municipalities in Latvia, coordinates awareness and availability of services to various groups of immigrants. Since beginning of its activities, the center has provided support to a total of 4,216 foreigners, reaching the total number of 6,712 consultations.