- The government considers lowering refugee benefits
- Latvijas Avize interviews Riga Deputy Ieva Holma
Newspapers report that the ruling coalition agreed to lower the refugee benefits. Representatives of the National Union “All for Latvia! – For Fatherland and Freedom/Latvian National Independence Movement” argued that it is socially unjust that the current amount of refugee benefit (EUR 256 per month) is higher than the income of many people in Latvia. The coalition preliminary agreed to lower the benefit for refugees or persons with alternative status to EUR 130-150. Neatkariga, Vesti Segodnya
Latvijas Avize interviews Ieva Holma, Deputy of the Riga City Council and Board Member of the National Union “All for Latvia! – For Fatherland and Freedom/Latvian National Independence Movement”. Ieva Holma sees tendencies within the Riga City Council which threaten ethnic Latvianness (latviskums): the municipality publishes its newspaper in two languages (Latvian and Russian), municipal State Language Service has been merged with another municipal institution, there were attempts to introduce translation of safety instructions into Russian for rickshaws serving tourists. She believes Riga is unable to accommodate refugees, because the issue of housing is very difficult in the municipality: there are several thousand persons waiting in the queue to receive accommodation, including persons with disability, poor, orphans, while many residents are living in wreckage houses and it would be unfair to provide privileges to refugees. Latvijas Avize (05.10.2015)
- Unknown persons painted Islamophobic title on a wall of a mosque in Riga
- Working group presented its plan on accommodation and integration of asylum seekers in Latvia
- Latvijas Avize reports about education option for school-age asylum seekers
Unknown persons painted a title in English “Your Allah - your problem, go home!” on a wall of a mosque in Riga: The incident happened on 27 September during the night time. Commenting the incident, representatives of the Latvian Islam Cultural Centre drew attention to increasing level of Islamophobia in Latviaand called mass media to be more careful in the way information regarding Islam is presented. Vesti Segodnya, news agency LETA
Yesterday, the inter-institutional working group headed by the Ministry of Interior presented to the government a plan for accommodation and integration of asylum seekers and refugees in Latvia. The plan has three directions: selection of persons and their transportation to Latvia; accommodation of asylum seekers; integration. Latvian representatives will choose asylum seekers according to certain criteria and will inform potential candidates about different aspects of life in Latvia, including normative regulations and rights, as well as weather conditions. After arrival to Latvia, they will be accommodated at the centre for accommodation of asylum seekers “Mucinieki” which should be renovated and adjusted to a larger number of persons. The plan foresees building of a multifunctional centre suitable for Latvian language learning courses, integration events and provision of different services. The plan also foresees access to Latvian language courses and employment options, such as temporary jobs at the accommodation centre and its territory, starting with first day of the arrival. Once asylum seeker is granted refugee or subsidiary status in Latvia, he or she will receive benefit in amount of EUR256 and health insurance for time period up to one year. In order to prepare refugees for life outside the accommodation centre, they will be assigned individual advisors. According to initial calculations of the working group, the implementation of the plan could cost around 16 millions euros, including the EU funds. As reported, Latviawill have to accommodate 531 asylum seekers during two years. Diena, Latvijas Avize, Neatkariga
Latvijas Avize reports that the Ministry of Education has agreement with eight schools on education of asylum seekers. Six of the schools are located inRiga and two in Dobele and Jelgava (towns in the central part ofLatvia.) Three of those are minority schools. According to the plan proposed by the inter-institutional working group on accommodation and integration of asylum seekers and refugees, school-age children will learn only Latvian language during first three months. Once children are enrolled to school, they will study according to individual programmes. It is also planned to provide special training for teachers. Up to now,Riga secondary school No. 15 (school with minority education programme) has the biggest experience in education of asylum seekers. The school director believes that it is easier for asylum seekers to learn Latvian in minority schools as Latvian language in these schools is taught according to foreign language learning methodology.
- Governing coalition parties conceptually support decrease of benefits for refugees
According to the Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, the governing coalition parties conceptually support decrease of benefits for refugees. The issue will be discussed in more details after the Minister of Interior will present the plan on accommodation and integration of refugees in Latvia. Presently, refugees receive benefit in amount of EUR 256 a month during 12 months and persons with subsidiary status during 9 months. Latvijas Avize
- Latvijas Avize: the budget for accommodation of refugees and asylum seekers in 2016 is 5,5 millions euros
- Parliament supported the draft amendments stipulating that all the decisions regarding accommodation of asylum seekers in Latvia have to be adopted by the Parliament
- Public opinion survey: 69% of Latvian residents do not support the accommodation of asylum seekers from North Africa and Middle East
Latvijas Avize reports that the budget for accommodation of refugees and asylum seekers in 2016 inLatvia will be in the amount of at least 5,5 millions euros, including 2,5 millions euros from the EU grants. According to unofficial information provided by the newspaper, every asylum seeker will be given individual assistant who would help in search of job and place of residence, coordinate Latvian language learning and other issues. Also, asylum seekers most likely will be provided health insurance. The Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of Culture will be responsible for integration of refugees and persons under subsidiary protection.
Yesterday, the Parliament supported in the first reading the draft amendments to the Asylum Law stipulating that all the decisions regarding accommodation of asylum seekers in Latvia have to be adopted by the Parliament. The majority of the MPs supported such proposal despite the fact that the Saeima’s Human Rights and Public Affairs Committee refused it last week. Latvijas Avize, Neatkariga, Vesti Segodnya
According to the latest public opinion survey conducted by “Latvijas fakti”, 69% of Latvian residents do not support accommodation of asylum seekers from North Africa and Middle East in Latvia. 18,1% support the accommodation, while 12,9% do not have clear opinion on the issue. Opposition to the accommodation of asylum seekers is greater among ethnic Latvians (71,9%) than among ethnic non-Latvians (64,9%). The most sceptical age group is the persons aged 55-64, while the most positive are the young people aged 18-24. Neatkariga, news agency LETA
- Newspapers continue to report on the issues regarding planned accommodation of asylum seekers in Latvia
- Diena prints an article about Latvian language courses
Diena reports that the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments collected opinions of the different municipalities about accommodation of refugees and is creating a data base with contacts of those who are ready to give shelter to asylum seekers. The Association and the NGO “Shelter. Save House” also propose to establish so-called “halfway houses” where refugees could stay for some period of time. Vesti Segodnya reports that the governing coalition supported the draft amendments to the Asylum Law stipulating that asylum seekers and refugees will have to attend Latvian language schools. Up to now, asylum seekers and refugees where given an option to choose whether to send children to the schools with instructions in Latvian language or in minority languages. Neatkariga reports about a picket against accommodation of asylum seekers. The picket was organised in the centre of Riga by representatives of nationalistic organisations and gathered, according to different sources, around 500-1000 participants.
Diena prints an article about Latvian language courses. Free-of-charge Latvian language courses for Latvian residents are provided by the Employment State Agency, the Riga City Council and other local governments. According to representative of the Riga City Council and organisers of language courses, the demand for courses in very high and people are motivated to learn it. The majority of participants attend courses with an aim to receive a state language certificate. According to the State Education Content Centre, the majority (65%) of those takings the language exam are unemployed. Most of them are Latvian citizens while others are citizens of Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, China, Lithuania and Azerbaijan. 95% of those taking the language exam need the language certificate for accessing employment, while 4% take the exam in order to receive permanent residence permit.