Actual number of Ukrainian war refugees in Latvia unknown

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, 24,746 Ukrainian civilians were registered in Latvia until yesterday, according to information compiled by the Ministry of Interior, but whether these statistics correspond to the actual situation cannot be verified, Latvian Radio reported April 27.

 9,313 persons have been housed, and 18.712 Ukrainians have been issued residence documents with the right to employment. It is known that some of the Ukrainians have already left Latvia, including returning to Ukraine. The country does not collect such data.

“After an informal exchange of information, we see cases of people applying for support in a number of countries. This means they get this temporary protection status but actually go to another country and do the same. There is currently no centralized solution in the European Union to prevent these people from traveling and receiving benefits,” said Dimitrijs Trofimovs, State Secretary at the Ministry of Interior. 

Ukraine's civilian flows to Latvia are shrinking. The Ukrainians choose central Europe and countries close to Ukraine as their destination, so that, as the geopolitical situation improves, they could return to their homeland more quickly.

The Ministry of Interior has prepared plans for the accommodation of Ukrainian civilians in Latvia if such a need arises. Latvia is ready to take in 35 to 40 thousand Ukrainians. The government has yet to agree on this.

Rīga

“In Rīga we have around 13 thousand registered Ukrainian civilians who have contacted the local government with whatever support they need. But the real civilian population of Ukraine in Riga, I think, is a lot more. Only a part of them have not needed support from the local government. So far. If they do not need help right now, they may need it at some point,” said Linda Ozola, Vice-President of the Riga City Council.

The probability that 35 thousand people from Ukraine have already arrived in Latvia is very high, believes Ozola.

Around 2,200 Ukrainian civilians have been housed in Riga with the support of the municipality. Most of the war refugees live with relatives, acquaintances, volunteers. At present, tourist accommodation has around a hundred spots for refugees. It is quite expensive for the municipality to house Ukrainians in hotels, so Riga plans to address universities about the possibility of using dormitories.

Jūrmala and Liepāja

There are currently 1,025 Ukrainian war refugees registered in the municipality of Jūrmala, and the local government provides 125 persons with accommodation. "It is now that the capacity of the municipality has already been exceeded. According to the principle of proportionality, Jūrmala should have received 567 refugees, but we have already taken more than a thousand. We have quite a lot of children in educational institutions. There are no more places in kindergarten,” said Zane Leite, head of Jūrmala's public relations department. 142 children are learning in local government schools.

In the meantime, more than 1,100 Ukrainian war refugees have been registered in southern Kurzeme. According to data compiled by the Liepāja Education Board, a total of 69 Ukrainian children are currently studying in Liepaja educational institutions, and 45 children in kindergarten.

The Ministry of Education and Science estimated that the education system is able to accommodate about 23 thousand children, the Interior Ministry reported. Therefore, in view of this, Latvia could accommodate some 40 thousand Ukrainian civilians.

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