From January 2 to June 30 the Information Centre for Newcomers (ICN) has provided all over Latvia information and support to 495 foreign citizens, who arrived from 30 countries outside the European Union, and 27 specialists working with this target group.
Most frequently, customers have chosen to receive consultations in person – in 735 cases, 67 consultations were provided by phone, 30 – electronically. The opportunity of repeated consultations was often used. Most consultations were provided in Riga – 292. Consultations of an ICN psychologist were used 35 times during the six months.
TOP 5 of consultation topics: residence permits, employment and business opportunities in Latvia, health care, education and family reunification matters.
In total, free consultations were provided to people from 30 countries. TOP 20 of countries: India (76), Ukraine (59), Russia (55), China (50), Pakistan (47), Turkey (17), Azerbaijan (17), Uzbekistan (17), Afghanistan (15), Syria (15), Egypt (14), Belarus (13), Sri-Lanka (10), Iraq (10), Eritrea (8), United States (7), Kazakhstan (7), Georgia (6), Iran (5), Bangladesh (4).
In order to ensure high quality communication with ICN customers, since the beginning of the year the centre has been having 23 translators / 11 language specialists: Arabic, Kurdish, Dari, Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Turkish, Hindi, Tigrinya, Sorani, Georgian. In six months the interpreting service has been provided 838 times to 165 foreign nationals. Interpreter services were also provided to the specialists working with foreigners. For the purposes of communication with customers the interpreter service was most frequently provided to medical staff in hospitals, polyclinics, to the State Employment Agency, banks, as well as social workers and social mentors.
An Intersectoral Dialogue Platform has been in development since the beginning of this year for coordinated interinstitutional cooperation in integration matters involving not only state, municipal, non-governmental organisations, but also the private sector. Six meetings of the Intersectoral Dialogue Platform have been organised by the end of June on the following topics: role and activity of NGOs in the Intersectoral Dialogue Platform; strategy and activity planning of the Intersectoral Dialogue Platform; Employment of newcomers and experience of businessmen in employment of immigrants; strategy of the Intersectoral Dialogue Platform; organisation of courses of Latvian for third country nationals – experience of organisations and topical matters; information prepared by the Community Policy Centre PROVIDUS on matters of integration of third country nationals; how to promote the inclusion of newcomers in the Latvian community and socioeconomic environment – experience and proposals for further cooperation.
34 volunteers from nine countries (Latvia, Mexico, United States, India, Uzbekistan, Syria, Spain, China and Kyrgyzstan) have made significant contributions to the organisation of ICN activities. During the six months volunteers have organised 10 non-formal education and volunteer initiative activities, for example, the White Table-Cloth Festival, the World Refugee Day, cultural evenings and events of different nationalities. 383 participants from 27 countries participated in the volunteer activities – Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Azerbaijan, Russia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Georgia, Syria, Australia, Sudan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Tajikistan, Mexico, Morocco, Iran, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Nepal, China, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Algeria.
ICN began its work as a one-stop-agency on 18 May 2016. Until the end of 2017 ICN customer advisers provided information and support to more than 2,5 thousands of foreign nationals, who have arrived from 81 country outside the European Union, and to specialists working with this target group. 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.
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.
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