Latvia admitted 207 refugees within year under EU plan

On February 5, 2016 the first asylum seekers arrived in Latvia under the EU relocation scheme. Currently Latvia has admitted 207 refugees from camps in Greece, Italy, and Turkey. However there is little data over whether they're still in Latvia, reported Latvian Radio.

Most, or 188 people were relocated from Greece, 12 from Italy and seven from Turkey.

Latvia wants to admit families with children, professional people with mastery of at least a single foreign language. About 90% of asylum seekers Latvia has admitted hew to these criteria, with 80 minors among the people moved here.

Latvia committed to admit 531 refugees within two years so it has to admit 324 more over a 12-month time span. 

138 of the refugees have been recognized legally thus far. Ten were granted the legal status of a refugee - meaning their residence permits have been granted for five years - and 128 were granted an 'alternative' status that is reviewed yearly.

As reported previously, many refugees flee to other countries, especially Germany where they cannot, however, reside or work legally.

There's no data on how many refugees have remained in Latvia after being legally recognized. However the parliament is debating law amendments that would scrap refugee benefits for those who've left, meaning authorities could start registering their movement.

Latvia's employment agency says 43 people with refugee or 'alternative' status had registered there throughout last year. At the moment there are 18 refugees registered as unemployed and two as job seekers at the agency.

Just four refugees have found jobs within a year; three are still employed and one has left Latvia.

Within a year after Latvia adopted a plan to integrate refugees into the society (adopted in November), it is evident that their integration is hindered by several factors, including meager benefits (€139 per person and €97 for the next family members), as well as scant Latvian-language knowledge that prevents them from landing a job.

The Interior Ministry says it will argue for loosening language requirements while the Economics Ministry has called for paying a two-month benefit when someone is legally recognized as in need of protection, so that people could pay a security deposit when looking for a place to live.

Many are still living with volunteers or at Latvia's sole asylum facility in Mucenieki.

Meet some of refugees that have come to Latvia here

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