Latvia to accept 250 refugees

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Behind closed doors, the Cabinet of Ministers has decided that Latvia will accept 250 refugees in the course of two years. 

The National Alliance, which objected to the decision, was represented only by Minister of Culture Dace Melbārde.

Before the government meeting PM Laimdota Straujuma said that two of the coalition parties - Unity and the Greens and Farmers alliance - want to accept 250 refugees in the course of two years, while the National Alliance maintained its stance against accepting any refugees. 

Edgars Tavars from the Greens and Farmers said that he trusts the Prime Minister in this matter: "We are absent from the meetings of European leaders and we don't know about what economic, social and security consequences could follow if we decided not to participate [in the refugee program]."

PM Laimdota Straujuma told Latvian Radio that she thinks that all the EU member states should show solidarity in this matter, and it's impossible to shy away from participating in the refugee program.

Straujuma said that refugees that come to Latvia will have to learn Latvian and to find a job. She admitted that there's still a long way to go until these matters are solved, and many more decisions will have to be made.

EU leaders have decided for accepting 60,000 refugees over the next years. This will relieve Italy and Greece, the countries that are accepting the bulk of the refugees, and will re-settle 40,000 people who have arrived to these countries.

Europe will also house 20,000 refugees from camps outside the EU, for example, Jordan, where conditions are particularly harsh and where children have gone without education for years.

However, the exact refugee numbers each country should accept have not been determined yet. Interior ministers from each country will have to reach an agreement about the so-called refugee quotas by the end of July.

Before, there were talks that Latvia would accept 737 refugees.


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