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Lithuania: Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection to receive same social assistance as refugees (Unofficial translation)

In the light of the ongoing EU resettlement programme, a legislative initiative has been taken by the Lithuanian Government which proposes to unify the social welfare for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection. Social Security authorities and Labour Ministry are considering the possibility to abandon a system where social assistance rates depend on protection statuses. This change would offer equal access to benefits which currently are not granted to beneficiaries of temporary protection, such as children, disability or death allowances. 

At this stage, it is not clear when or if this proposal will be implemented. However, the proposal is seen as positive development given that it also takes into consideration other major refugee integration obstacles such as housing, language learning and employment often pointed out by experts and practitioners. The current integration framework lacks an adequate language courses offer in Centres and does not ensure basic knowledge of Lithuanian language for example.

Lithuania has so far accepted 39 out of 1,100 refugees it committed to receive within the framework of the EU refugee resettlement programme. 28 of them arrived in 2016, according to the latest statistics from the Migration Department. Beneficiaries include a family of 10 from Syria and a stateless person from Palestine. The newcomers will be accommodated in the Reception Centre of Rukla before moving to another municipality.

These arrivals are well covered by the media. In this context, nationals have discovered the stories of Lithuania's first accepted refugee and Syrian journalist Redwan Eid, the graduate of the Damascus Fine Art Academy Majd who exhibits his paintings created at the Rukla Reception Centre, as well as about Abdul Basir Yoususin, an Afghani who worked as an interpreter for Lithuanian troops in Afghanistan. 

Across Europe, 8,268 persons have been resettled since the beginning of the scheme in July 2015, as reported by the European Commission reported on 11 July 2016. 

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