First refugees to arrive in January

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The first ten asylum seekers to be relocated to Latvia from Greece as part of a European Union plan will arrive in January 2016, Latvian Interior Ministry representative Daiga Holma told the BNS news agency December 13.

She indicated that the Interior Ministry and the Latvian Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs informed Greece about Latvia's readiness to admit asylum seekers and sent Greek authorities criteria and a timetable for the asylum seekers' admission.

Latvia has indicated that it would like to admit families with children and people with foreign language skills, basic or vocational education, work experience or skills and valid travel documents.

Holma noted that asylum criteria for persons in need of international protection are uniform and based on international principles of non-discrimination.

Two liaison officers or coordinators have been appointed to arrange the asylum seekers' relocation in cooperation with Italian and Greek authorities. The coordinators are expected to visit Greek next week to get familiar with the situation and establish close contacts with the Greek authorities in charge of refugees' resettlement.

The Latvian government and the Latvian parliamentary committee on European affairs have supported the plan by the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for dealing with the migration crisis in Europe under which Latvia would admit up to 776 asylum seekers, who have fled from Africa and the Middle East.

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