In Daugavpils, 140 refugees had to leave the rooms of the Good Stay Dinaburg three-star hotel. A month ago, a large hall of Daugavpils Olympic Center was viewed as a place where refugees from Ukraine could be housed.
“The hall was a final option if we couldn't find another solution, not to put people on the street. However, we managed to find a more suitable option for them. All 140 [people] actually stayed in Daugavpils: two dormitories at Daugavpils University and a service hotel under the responsibility of Daugavpils Olympic Center,” said Vladimirs Šteinbergs, head of Daugavpils Olympic Center.
Latvian Radio met Tatiana, who had moved from the Dinaburg Hotel with her 11-year-old child. Tatiana has been in Daugavpils for four months.
“I have come from the city of Kryvyi Rih in the district of Dnipropetrovsk. I'm not too demanding, I'm satisfied. The main thing is that it is peaceful,” Tatiana said.
There's a sports camp going on at the base. However, it does not prevent a number of refugee families from living here.
“It's alright that it's noisy. It's quieter here anyway than in Ukraine,” said the mother of seven and fifteen-year-old sons, Natalia. “My two sons do sport – play football. And the place is very suitable for them. We came from Zaporizhzhia in March, and we like it very much here.”
The family had recently returned to Ukraine to possibly stay, but changed their mind. “Unfortunately, it's not so peaceful in our city yet. Every day the noise becomes louder and louder, there is nothing good about it. So we decided to come back here,” Natalia said.
Natalia's family isn't the only one who came from Ukraine back to Daugavpils. Such a trend is also observed in the municipality. “Mostly, those who came from occupied territories who have nowhere to return were grateful for the opportunities we offered them and what we found. Because there is no place to go, and there are no other houses,” said the head of the Olympic Centre, Šteinbergs.
More than half a thousand refugees have registered in Daugavpils since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and some have remained in the city, mostly in local government hotels. “To date, 324 people have been housed with the help of the municipality, and 224 people are living in private – those who live in apartments, relatives, friends,” said Mārtiņš Ruļuks, civil protection organizer of Daugavpils City Council.
Some who live in dorms will have to move to another place of residence this month. This applies primarily to Daugavpils University dorms as students will be returning. More spots are offered at the sports base.
Steinbergs described the people who are currently seeking asylum in Daugavpils: “Most of them are families with children, women with children, men, but mostly those who came through the occupied territory through Russia. People are of different ages: the youngest 3 months to seniors at the age of 80.”