Volunteers give food packs to refugees as state runs out of EU funds

Starting February, the state could again start providing refugees in the Mucenieki asylum seeker center with food and hygiene products. Since summer when the EU funding period concluded, the refugees, who are provided a meager daily sustenance of €2.15, have been receiving additional material assistance only from NGOs and volunteers, Latvian Radio's Vita Anstrate reported Thursday.

NGOs and volunteers help asylum seekers, collecting and packing donations of hygiene and food products. Even though the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (PMLP) promises that it'll be assuming this task from February, the EU funds for the purpose have still not been received.

"The European funds activity period has started already, however the grant agreements haven't been concluded yet. However as we were promised, [they'll be ready] any minute now. We think that we can start [the funding] again from early February," said the deputy head of PMLP Maira Roze.

As of now NGOs and volunteers - like the I Want to Help Refugees Facebook group - are providing asylum seekers with basic products. The Facebook group has some 2,000 members and some activists have even found wholesalers for purchasing wares like oil, oatmeal, and other products, activist Artis Tauriņš told Latvian Radio.

"We are seeking the niche in which we could be really useful, and this is the one place where can provide help most effectively, where there is neither clarity nor confirmation from the state. They cannot deliver the packs themselves, for some reason," said Tauriņš. 

The group has an open donations account, created jointly with the Kaņepes Culture Center.

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