Interior Minister: Fewer Ukrainians arrive in Latvia lately

In the last three weeks, the number of Ukrainian war refugees in Latvia has decreased – both the number of arriving and already housed Ukrainian civilians, Interior Minister Kristaps Eklons told Latvian Radio on November 22.

Eklons said he is cautious about the future, as the number of refugees may increase due to the coming winter.

“At the moment, all Ukrainian refugee flows are shrinking in line with the war trends, and it has been reducing for the third consecutive week, both the total number of Ukrainian refugees housed and the number of Ukrainian refugees entering, and in turn an increasing number of people is leaving,” the minister said.

According to the minister, given the calls made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy not to return to Ukraine for the time being, Ukrainians are mostly moving away to more prosperous countries with better social security, such as Germany, and to countries with active Ukrainian communities.

At the same time, the minister acknowledged that he was cautious about the future, given the approaching winter and the events in Ukraine. "We have had winter [weather] for a week.During that time, Ukrainians certainly haven't felt it so much. We may feel the effects of winter in a month or so," said Eklons, adding that the influx of “winter” refugees would soon begin.

“The big question is whether they will stay in  Latvia, where it is exactly the same winter or even harsher.”

The Interior Ministry is preparing a plan to accommodate Ukraine's war refugees next year. According to it, the estimated number of refugees to be admitted is 40 000, the same number as foreseen in the current plan. Currently, 35,264 Ukrainian people have been registered in Latvia.

The implementation of the new plan requires €204 million in the budget for next year, Eklons said, while presuming so much money will likely not be needed unless the military in Ukraine drastically deteriorates.

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