Steve Roman, ERR News 06.02.2012
The government expects that Estonia's current trickle of asylum seekers will soon turn into a larger one, and is taking measures to meet the increased demand.
"Because the situation has remained tense in third [non-EU] countries and those states which, as a rule, receive the most applications for asylum, for example Finland and Sweden, have tightened their migration policies, we must be prepared for the fact that the number of asylum seekers in Estonia may increase in the coming years," Ellen Lebedeva, a chief specialist at the Police and Border Guard Board, told Postimees.
The number of asylum applications has indeed risen recently, jumping from 33 received in 2010 to a record 67 last year 2011, according to police statistics.
The Ministry of Social Affairs has acknowledged the increased strain on the nation's small intake center in northeastern Illuka community, and has accordingly upped the facility's budget from 125,715 euros to 232,162 euros this year, an amount that includes benefits paid to asylum seekers.
Approximately 300 asylum applications have been received in Estonia in the last 15 years, a majority of which are either rejected outright or turned down after review.
Last summer, 11 of the 25 asylum seekers then staying at Illuka center illegally ducked out of the facility when it became clear that their applications had been turned down.
State Preparing for Asylum Seeker Influx