RIGA – Local governments play a significant role in providing assistance to refugees, said Welfare Ministry’s representative Imants Lipskis, commenting on the remarks made by Chief Ombudsman Juris Jansons on problems in accommodation and further integration of refugees returned back to Latvia.
Lipskis said that such conclusions can be drawn after analyzing experience of other countries and the first results of the Society Integration Fund’s pilot project for support with accommodation to refugees and persons with alternative protection status.
The Welfare Ministry along with other state institutions, local government and NGOs have taken part in solving socio-economic inclusion problems for refugees and persons with alternative protection status. Lipskis said that these persons have access to services of social workers and social mentors. Also, the State Employment Agency (NVA) has implemented a number of measures to promote integration of these persons in the job market and their socio-economic inclusion.
He said that social support to refugees and persons with alternative protection status who return back to Latvia depends on the time that has passed since the status of the refugee or a person with alternative status has been assigned. If the person has returned within 12 months since the status has been assigned, services of social workers or social mentors are still available, and the person may apply to the State Social Insurance Agency for benefits and ask local governments for support.
If the person returns to Latvia more than 12 months later, the person may turn to the local government for support, including for services of shelters and crisis centers. These persons also have the rights to register with the NVA, but they are not entitled to services of social workers and mentors, benefits and accommodation.
Jansons said in a letter to responsible institutions and ministries that there is no system in Latvia on accommodation and further integration of refugees who return back to Latvia.
As reported, Germany has returned 13 Syrian citizens, including families with small children, back to Latvia after their temporary residence permits, that have to be renewed once a year, expired. The Citizenship and Migration Affairs Board said that after their residence permits are extended, they again may leave Latvia.
Many refugees relocated to Latvia, after having registered and granted the status, leave Latvia for Germany or other countries, seeking for higher benefits and better living conditions.