Vidzeme ready to welcome more Ukrainians in 2024

Around 12,000 new refugees from Ukraine could arrive in Latvia in 2024 – such estimates are provided in the plan of measures prepared by the Ministry of the Interior to provide support to Ukrainian refugees. Vidzeme municipalities express their readiness to welcome about 100 more war refugees in each of the local administrations, Latvian Television reports.

Ukrainian Irina Jurachkin has not been in Kharkiv for nearly two years, as her hometown is just off the front line. She still occasionally receives videos of the horrors of war in Ukraine from acquaintances.

“You know, I'm very much in love with Latvia, honestly, wholeheartedly. It has become the second homeland. We're all working - I came in April and literally got into work in two weeks. Understandably not in my profession, but I have settled into a job as an assistant cook,“ Irina said.

In Ukraine, Irina worked as a hairdresser, but in Latvia, it is not as easy to get a job in her trade.

“I have passed level A1 in Latvian, but communication is very important for the hairdresser, and my skills for clients are not enough. Cēsis is a very Latvian city and I cannot communicate at the necessary level,“ Irina said.

She added that many Ukrainians she knows have come to Latvia and some more are about to come.

Vidzeme municipalities express readiness to welcome even more Ukrainian refugees this year.

'In our facilities, we are free to welcome around 100 more refugees. If more is needed, then we need to think and raise additional resources,” said Baiba Eglīte, executive vice chairperson of Cēsis municipality.

“Everything probably depends on resources already and how the state would come to help. Of course, local government resources on the ground will be limited. Everything depends on this potential number of refugees. We would be able to serve around 100 people, but if there were more, there would be problems,“ said Andris Liepiņš, executive director of Smiltene municipality.

In total, 98 registered Ukrainian refugees live in Smiltene municipality, over 200 in Cēsis municipality, and 350 in Valmiera municipality. Valmiera could welcome 150 more refugees.

Most refugees are people of working age and have found work.

“When the war broke out, a lot of educated people came from Ukraine. We currently have tutors, simple workers and cooks working in schools, people working in the largest company of Valmiera municipality “Stikla šķiedra”,” Sandis Svarinskis, deputy chief executive of Valmiera municipality, told LTV.

in 2023, more than 98,000 Ukrainian citizens entered Latvia through the external border. Most have crossed Latvia in transit. How many Ukrainian refugees live in Latvia, no one can say exactly at this time. Estimates show between 33 and 46 thousand.

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