CURRENT: Ukrainians arriving on night buses from Russia risk losing access to help

The information is available at border crossings, but refugees arriving at Tallinn Bus Station late at night are at a loss, with some having burned through their savings. Volunteers have taken it upon themselves to inform people and help them buy food and drink after the day is done.

Even though organized efforts to transport refugees to Estonia on buses have ended, the Tallinn Bus Station is seeing new refugees in transit and those aiming to stay in Estonia every day.

More refugees than previously are arriving from Russia, also on night coaches, by which time information desks and kiosks selling water and essentials are closed. People arriving at night have nowhere to go for information or to make necessary purchases.

Volunteers who found information about the refugees’ need for help on social media have helped the refugees get food and water from nearby 24-hour shops, buy tickets and find a place to stay. However, some refugees spend the night waiting for the next bus at the bus station.

“We also know that people are told that refugee centres are in Tartu and Pärnu when they reach the border. What they don’t know is that Pärnu is just 30 minutes from the Ikla border crossing and miss their stop. It is absurd that the Tallinn Bus Station, as a logistical hub, has no information on ways of travelling abroad or inside Estonia,” Airika Aruksaar, CEO of T grupp OÜ, said.

According to Aruksaar, the company has offered to create an information kiosk at the bus station, but government agencies have not responded.

“In a situation where these people arrive in Tallinn and suddenly discover that they do need help, we should probably go over these border procedures. Should this become a recurring and massive issue, we will take another look at it next week, working with local governments,” Mari Tikerpuu, head of the Social Insurance Board’s emergency social protection group, said.

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