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15 February 2024

Estonia: UNHCR refugee integration assessment and recommendations

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This UNHCR assessment of refugee integration in Estonia shows that the country is providing good assistance to people displaced from Ukraine, more or less covering their basic needs. Compared with the last two years, the assessment notes, assistance now needs to focus more on long-term needs and on working to avoid the social conflicts that can arise from war fatigue.

There are currently more than 50 000 Ukrainian refugees in Estonia, with this number likely to rise to 55 000 in 2024. Compared to the beginning of a full-scale war, the plans and needs of displaced people have changed, which also means that a different type of support is needed: language training, mental health support, job skills training, and general education, for example, are all important issues. The assessment notes that:

  • Estonia has the highest number of students from Ukraine in the local school system in Europe. In many other European countries less than half the population of students displaced from Ukraine is enrolled in school.
  • Approximately half of adult Ukrainians have managed to find work in Estonia. Many speak Russian, which is a language also used in the east of Estonia.
  • A factor that could hamper the integration of Ukrainians is war fatigue - feelings of hopeless among the refugee population, where any integration actions are perceived as pointless. This is especially likely to be the case if it continues to seem as if the conflict in Ukraine will not be resolved soon.
  • Particular attention needs to be paid to the more vulnerable groups of displaced people, such as those with particular needs or those belonging to sexual minority groups. 
  • It should not be the case that a choice has to be made between helping people displaced from Ukraine return to their homeland and promoting their lasting integration into Estonian society.

It is forecast that NGOs in Estonia will spend a total of almost €10 million on support for people displaced from Ukraine in 2024. €6.6 million of this will be granted by the UN, and the NGOs themselves will work to raise the rest of the total through donations.

The assessment, currently only available in Estonian, is attached below.

UNHCR Refugee Response Plan 2024 - Estonia
None
(2.33 MB - PDF)
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Details

Authors
UNHCR Estonia
Geographic area
Estonia
Contributor type
International organisation
Original source
Posted by
Kristjan Kaldur
Country Coordinator

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