Refugees ‘learn Russian before they learn Lithuanian’ – minister scolds integration policies

Lithuanian classes at Rukla Refugee Reception Centre
A.Didžgalvio nuotr.

Žilinskas says that Lithuania’s refugee integration policy, which is supervised by the Ministry of Social Security and Labour Ministry, is not implemented earnestly.

“Go to Rukla [Refugee Reception Centre] and see for yourselves. My impression is that we just want to show that we are doing something, like teaching the Lithuanian language or something else,” he told Žinių Radijas on Tuesday.

“I have heard that migrants who are brought there learn the Russian language quicker than Lithuanian. That is natural. Because I went there and saw that Syrians were in the same houses as Ukrainians and Belarusians. Children communicate in Russian and learn the language,” he said.

Žilinskas also thinks that the social environment in which migrants are placed when they arrive in Lithuania is not conducive to their integration either.

“Where are we integrating them into in Rukla? As far as I know, nearly 70% of families in Rukla are at risk. Another point is what activities and employment opportunities there are. People from the Labour Exchange go there twice a week. And how many Lithuanians get jobs via the Labour Exchange? I believe that we must be much more proactive,” he said.

The minister said that 39 refugees have so far been relocated to Lithuania from Greece, Turkey and Italy under the European Union‘s resettlement programme. Currently, there are a total of 4,000 foreigners from third countries in Lithuania.

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