Refugees complain about meager benefits

The Citizenship and Migration Affairs Office (PMLP) regularly receives complaints from asylum seekers over perceived meager benefits, reported Latvian Radio 4 Monday.

On August 8 about 20 asylum seekers at Latvia's sole refugee facility in Mucenieki protested about their material status.

Undīne Priekule, a representative of the PMLP, explained the reasons for this to Latvian Radio 4.

"No protests, similar to that which took place last Monday, had been staged thus far. However we regularly receive questions over how it's possible to survive on such meager funding.

It concerns the daily sustenance. At the moment it stands at €3. The government increased the sum as much as it could, from €2.15 to €3 per day. However asylum seekers claim it's not enough. While the benefit for those who've been granted the [refugee or alternative] status was lowered in 2015. At the moment it's quite difficult to start living outside the asylum seekers' center on a €139 [monthly] benefit.

However this concerns mostly those who've been granted a status. In Latvia it's customary to have to pay for the first two months to rent an apartment. Besides, like any other people, they need money to pay for the utilities. They need everyday appliances as well as money for food. Perhaps some of them need health care and drugs. That's why people who've been granted [a refugee] status voice discontent over that it's not possible to afford all that for €139."

Prikule said however that the state covers public transportation fees, e.g., for a visit to the doctor. The refugees have to buy hygiene packages and food for the €3 daily sustenance. 

At the moment PMLP is looking for ways to provide refugees with food and hygiene packages free of charge.

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