Last year, more than a thousand foreigners have sought assistance at the Information Centre for Newcomers
According to the data summarised by the one-stop agency, Information Centre for Newcomers (ICN), over the 12 months of last year it has provided almost one and a half thousand consultations for 1112 foreign citizens* which have arrived in Latvia from 55 non-EU countries: 921 citizens of the third countries, 191 persons of international protection. Support was also provided to specialists from different areas, who work with this target group.
Gunta Vīksne, Head of ICN, says that most often support has been provided to newcomers from Russia, Ukraine, India, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Vietnam, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Syria. The most common subjects of consultation still remain employment, business opportunities in Latvia, family reunification and migration issues, for example, receiving and renewal of residence permits. Psychologist services provided by the Centre were used by nine clients last year, receiving 51 consultation of psychotherapist. All services to ICN foreigners, who are citizens of the third countries, are free of charge.
In order to ensure qualitative communication with the clients last year, the centre employed 34 interpreters or persons with good knowledge of languages. Skills were needed for 22 languages: Arabic, French, Hindi, Urdu, Chinese, Dari, Farsi, Pushti, Turkish, Kurdish, Vietnamese, Tigrinya, Spanish, Mongolian, Georgian, Uzbek, Chakmi, Tamil, Tajik, Bengal, Sorani, and Persian. In total, the translation service was provided 831 times last year. „Intermediation of interpreters was ensured not only for communication with the clients from various countries during consultations, but also (upon request) to specialists working with the foreigners, for example, for medical personnel at hospitals and out-patient clinics, State Employment Agency, banks, Riga Social Services, employers, various non-governmental organisations,” emphasises Ms Vīksne.
Significant support to organisation of ICN activities last year was provided by volunteers; they organised 18 informal education activities, 3 volunteer initiatives and 2 NGO cooperation events. The mentioned activities held last year were attended by 436 people from 30 countries across the world. In 2019, the team of ICN volunteers was joined by 73 new volunteers from 15 countries.
Regular meetings of the Inter-Sectoral Dialogue platform are organised by ICN on a regular basis to ensure coordination of collaboration between institutions in the matters of integration. Organisations from the private sector are also involved in addition to national, local government authorities and non-governmental organisations. Last year, 12 state governance institutions, 26 non-governmental organisations, 46 local government authorities and 6 private companies were involved in the Dialogue platform.
ICN began its work as a one-stop-agency on 18 May 2016. ICN Riga office operates as a coordinating centre in Latvia. It provides assistance in dealing with problems of a particular customer and supports the ICN focal points/branches in the regions (in Cesis, Jelgava, Liepaja and Daugavpils) with regard to provision of services, ensures professional support to service providers in all municipalities in Latvia, coordinates awareness and availability of services to various groups of immigrants. Since beginning of its activities, the Centre has provided support to a total of 4,216 foreigners, reaching the total number of 6,712 consultations.
The activity of the Information Centre for Newcomers within the framework of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund is ensured and developed by the NGO “Shelter “Safe House””. The centre is co-funded by the European Union. Grant Agreement No. PMIF/12/2017/2/01.
*A third-country national is a person who is not a citizen of the member states of the European Union, the European Economic Area or the Swiss Confederation.
Information prepared by:
Rasa Salina (Rasa Saliņa),
Multimedia Communications Specialist