Rīga to call halt on refugee intake over funding issues

After failing to receive financial support from the central government, Riga will stop admitting more Ukraine war refugees from July 1 and will only continue to provide assistance to the refugees already living in the city, Riga Mayor Martins Stakis (For/Progressives) said at a news conference Tuesday.

Stakis indicated that because of the unresponsiveness of ministries in charge of dealing with these issues, the accommodation of refugees in the capital city and the operation of the refugee support center at the former Riga Technical University (RTU) building next to the City Hall are under threat.

The Riga mayor said that the state allocation for the accommodation of the refugees will be substantially reduced from July 1. The daily support will be cut to EUR 3.5 per refugee, which is insufficient to survive in Riga. Tourist accommodation establishments will not be able to accommodate refugees for such a price, the mayor said.

At present, 1,800 Ukrainian civilians are living in Riga's hotels and other tourist accommodation establishments in addition to those housed elsewhere.

Stakis has instructed municipal officials to contact the tourist accommodation establishments and inform them that the municipality will cover the price difference and to ask them not to terminate refugee accommodation agreements.

The local government will thus spend EUR 450,000 per month on refugee accommodation. The money will be taken from contingency funds and will suffice for about two more months.

The Riga mayor also noted that 16,6000 refugees have so far arrived in the city, which is 3,000 people more than projected in the national refugee admission plan.

Riga will therefore stop taking in new refugees unless funding for their accommodation is provided.

As reported, at the beginning of June the Latvian government agreed to extend the provision of support to Ukrainian war refugees in Latvia until the end of this year.

In line with amendments to the Law on Assistance to Ukrainian Civilians, all Ukrainian war refugees will receive primary support in accommodation for the first 120 days after arrival in Latvia, but not longer than until December 31, 2022. Latvian residents and legal entities will be compensated for accommodating Ukrainian refugees for 120 days, but not longer than until December 31.

In addition, Ukrainian residents who are not able to find their own accommodation will be assisted also after 120-day period, but not longer than until December 31. These will include persons with disabilities, caretakers of persons with disabilities, pensioners, children going to preschools, general education schools, vocational schools or full-time students, Ukrainian refugees during their maternity leave or who take care of young children who cannot attend preschools.

Catering will be provided to Ukrainian refugees who have applied for it after May 25 for a period of 30 days, but not longer than until December 31.

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