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NIEM Latvia Coalition Meeting. World Refugee day

To mark the World Refugee day, the think tank “PROVIDUS” organised the second coalition meeting of the year within the international research project National Integration Evaluation Mechanism or NIEM, informing the partners about the latest developments and conclusions regarding the reception and integration of beneficiaries of international protection.

The meeting was attended by many partners from non-governmental organisations as well as Ministries, state agencies and the parliament. 

Since 2017 Latvia has improved in some indicators of integration, for example, in the administration of residency permits as well as employment, however there still exist a number of challenges and obstacles in terms of a successful implementation of the integration policy. Most people who are granted international protection leave Latvia since the available support prevents them from making long-term plans and commitments – the small monthly benefit forces them to join the labour market right away, consequently complicating the acquisition of the Latvian language and challenging the ability to take part in other integration activities. The temporary residency permit creates a sense of instability as well as limitsaccess to state benefits and social assistance.

Secondary movement, as a result of which people are returned to Latvia, highlights the shortcomings of the current integration plan. When people return, they do not enjoy access to the services of a social worker and a mentor. They also have to pay a fine for failing to renew their residency permit. However, the most notable challenges relate to the issue of housing. Since the assistance from the municipality is available only if the person has registered address in the respective municipality, it creates a vicious circle whereby housing support is made available only after housing has already been secured. 

Therefore “PROVIDUS” suggests reviewing these conditions and link the available support to the status of international protection rather than residency permit. Further, the condition for having registered address at the municipality in order to receive housing support should be abolished.