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Refugees not terrorists says Interior Ministry

It is a stereotype that terrorists will arrive in Latvia with the 250 refugees Latvia plans to admit, said Latvian Interior Ministry's state secretary Ilze Petersone-Godmane told the press on Thursday.

Petersone-Godmane who is chairing the government's workgroup that has been tasked with creating a system for 250 refugees' integration in Latvia's society, their temporary accommodation and employment, as well as providing health care and other arrangements, said that if any person chose Latvia as the target for a terrorist attack, it would be possible on any day or time.

"We may never prevent an individual provocation," she said.

She also noted that every year Latvian visas are issued to hundreds of thousands of people, including from Africa, Syria.

"Application of every refugee will be assessed. Threat to security is one of the criteria, based on which the status of a refugee can be rejected. This will also refer to the people to be relocated," she said.

"In my opinion, we have managed to do that so far. Of course, the Security Police, law enforcement authorities will have more job because it is a matter of exchange of information with the countries of origin," she said.

Asked about when the first refugees can arrive in Latvia, Petersone-Godmane said that it will happen in winter, but it is not yet clear whether this year or early next year.

The Latvian government at an extraordinary meeting in early July agreed that over two years Latvia would voluntary admit 250 refugees from Africa who need to be relocated within the EU. The Latvian ministries and local governments now have to work together to develop an integration policy to be implemented in the coming years.

A special workgroup has been formed at the prime minister’s orders and is headed by Interior Ministry state secretary Ilze Petersone-Godmane. The workgroup includes representatives from the Foreign, Culture, Welfare, Education and Science, Health, Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministries, as well as experts.

The workgroup has been tasked with creating a system for 250 refugees' integration in Latvia's society, their temporary accommodation and employment, as well as providing health care and other arrangements. The workgroup will produce an interim report by September 30 and the final report by November 30, the Latvian Interior Ministry said.

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