Latvian migration authority grants asylum to 17 relocated refugees

Added On August 2, 2016

RIGA, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Latvian migration authority on Monday granted asylum to a group of 17 people, which includes families of Syrians and Iraqis and two Eritreans who were relocated to Latvia from the southern Europe under an EU-wide scheme, Latvian media reported.

According to the report of media website, the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs said in a statement to the press, "Refugee status has been granted to five persons from Iraq, while 12 persons from Syria and Eritrea have been given alternative status."

"The relocated Iraqi and Syrian families arrived from Greece, and the Eritreans were relocated from Italy," it said.

The migration authority said that the refugee status has been granted indefinitely, while the alternative status has been granted for one year. If the situation in the status holders' country of origin does not improve in a year, their residence permits will be extended for 12 months.

The relocated families of refugees are still living in an asylum center in Mucenieki, outside Riga, and are looking for permanent housing.

Two families from Syria and two from Iraq, which included seven children, were brought to Latvia from Greece under the EU-wide relocation program, and two Eritreans were relocated from Italy.

Latvia has committed to taking in 531 asylum seekers by September 17, 2017, but Interior Minister Rihards Kozlovskis recently admitted that this target might not be met as the admission of refugees has not been going as fast as planned.

To date, slightly more than 53 asylum seekers have been relocated to Latvia under the EU scheme.