Riga plans to establish coordination center for refugees

The Riga municipality plans to establish a special coordination center to solve admission of refugees, said Riga City Mayor Nils Ušakovs in an interview with the Latvian public television on Thursday.

"The Riga municipality will establish a special coordination center that will deal with the refugee issues, because we see that the state doesn't offer any understandable policy in this matter," said Ušakovs.

"We will definitely introduce changes in the work of the police so that they have more instruments because [..] we have concerns that the 776 refugees [Latvia has agreed to admit] will all come to Riga. And it will the problem of the Riga municipality how they will look for jobs and housing in the capital," said Ušakovs.

The mayor said that the coordination center will be established in the coming weeks, and that it has to be fully operational by April when the first refugees could arrive.

Ušakovs also said that the Riga City Council has to revise capacity of its night shelters.

"If these people, for example, decide to stay in the central railway station (...), we will have to offer night shelters to them. It is important for us to distribute them evenly across night shelters so that they do not form big groups in one of them," he said.

Besides cooperating with the police, the municipal center will work with businesses and offer refugees jobs for example, of cleaning parks or cemeteries.

The Latvian government after a lengthy and heated debate in mid-September agreed to accept 776 immigrants under the new EU refugee relocation scheme proposed by the European Commission to deal with huge number of refugees from Africa and the Middle East.

In line with the decision made by EU interior ministers, Latvia has to take in additional 281 asylum seekers on top of the 250 asylum seekers agreed on earlier, and thus, the total number of asylum seekers to be accepted by  Latvia so far is 531.

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