Refugees will be able to learn Latvian from day one

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Refugees that have arrived to Latvia will be able to learn Latvian for free abd starting from the day of their arrival, announced the Interior Ministry's State Secretary and head of the work group for accepting refugees Ilze Pētersone-Godmane on Thursday, after a meeting of the group. 

This time representatives of religious organizations and municipalities were invited to the group meeting.

Municipalities accented that they want state funding to create a housing pool, as there are municipalities that may have job for refugees, but there's nowhere to house them. However, this will not happen so as not create special conditions for the refugees, as they're just like the others, said Pētersone-Godmane.

Meanwhile, representatives of religious organizations voiced their opinions about which people Latvia should accept. Representatives of Christian organizations said that Latvia should only admit Christians, while Muslim representatives said that people should not be differentiated by their religious beliefs. Muslim representatives said that Latvia should admit people fleeing from terror and should not be afraid that extremists would move into the country.

The head of the work group said that Latvia has previously said they would rather accept Christians. The first refugees will arrive to Latvia in late winter, which was confirmed by PM Laimdota Straujuma on Thursday in Latvian Radio. 

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 Ministries of Interior, Welfare, Culture and Environmental Protection and Regional Development in collaboration with local authorities will have to work out a policy for their integration.

At a meeting Monday, EU ministers agreed to accept 32,000 refugees, mainly from war-torn Syria. the target fell short of the 40,000 figure previously agreed.

Of that figure, Latvia agreed to take 50 for "resettlement" and 200 for "relocation".

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