Minister mulls health risks of huddled masses

In light of the potential risk that boat-bound refugees from North Africa might be carrying infectious diseases such as Ebola or tuberculosis, for example, the health dimension of accepting the asylum-providing burden must also be considered, urged Health Minister Guntis Belēvičs Wednesday at the Saeima Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

It is clear that any mass movement of humanity has its health dimensions that must be taken into account, the minister clarified further. He worried that despite a minimal capacity of its own for accepting asylum-seekers, the state could be threatened by greater flows of these people.

“It’s important we think of these matters in a timely manner,” the minister said in apparent admonition of the Foreign Affairs ministry, reported LETA.

On her part, Interior ministry parliamentary secretary Ilze Pētersone-Godmane told the Saeima committee that Latvia will have to seek partners in the political fight to oppose the binding quotas about to be put into law for the first time by the EU. The majority that could kill such a requirement in the bill would be 55 percent of the member states accounting for at least 65 percent of all EU citizens.

The ministry’s parliamentary liaison added that the state’s current capacity at the asylum center Mucenieki in the Riga outskirts stands at around 200 persons under emergency conditions, however half that number could also occupy the accommodations there more comfortably at full capacity. Refugees and persons who have attained an alternative status within Latvia’s borders can receive support up to 256 euro per month, attend Latvian-language classes or help from various NGOs.

However, Pētersone-Godmane noted that the available resources in Latvia for asylum-seekers are currently maxed out.

Latvia is among a handful of EU member-states currently opposed to burden-sharing quotas under consideration as a potentially binding measure. The group also includes Estonia, Denmark, Ireland, Great Britain and Hungary.

Latvia is among a handful of EU member-states currently opposed to burden-sharing quotas under consideration as a potentially binding measure. The group also includes Estonia, Denmark, Ireland, Great Britain and Hungary.

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Politics
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