Contingency plans being made in Rīga to house more Ukrainian refugees

If the number of refugees arriving from Ukraine increases significantly this winter as a result of ongoing Russian barbarism, new arrivals may have to be accommodated on the premises of municipal institutions - schools, gyms and other places, said Jānis Lange, the executive director of the Rīga municipality, in an interview with Latvian Radio November 24.

As a severe winter is expected in Ukraine and Russia is aggressively targeting civilian infrastructure such as electricity and heating plants, the flow of refugees could increase. Currently, the flow of civilians arriving at the Riga support center is stable - about 30 civilians register anew every day. However, the Riga City Council expects that this flow could significantly increase in the near future.

Lange said that the biggest challenge in Rīga for the reception of Ukrainian refugees is accommodation. "Actually, our capacity is exhausted. And if this flow increases, it is likely that we will have to call a meeting of the Civil Defense Commission, where we have to think about other facilities that are at the municipality's disposal. These are schools, sports halls or some other facilities which if necessary, if this flow increases significantly, could accommodate Ukrainian civilians," said Lange.

Regarding state support, the Riga City Council is waiting for a clear action plan. "We know that the Ministry of the Interior is working on a system for how this issue will be handled after December 31 of this year. But Rīga, on its part, will, of course, provide support to Ukrainian civilians as long as it is necessary," Lange said.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, streams of Ukrainian civilians went to Europe, including Latvia. Almost nine months after the start of the war, the flow of refugees has steadily decreased but it is predicted that an influx of refugees could begin again as conditions become harsh for civilians in Ukraine.

In Latvia, support for refugees from Ukraine is planned until the end of 2022. In order to continue with the support, amendments to the law are needed, and funding must also be provided in the next year's budget.

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