Special fund would help citizens return to Latvia in emergencies

A special fund that would help Latvian citizens abroad return to the homeland in case of emergencies has received a green light from the Cabinet of Ministers.

Proposed by Foreign Minister Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, the LVL 50,000 fund would offer emergency loans for medical evacuation and similar situations to those citizens who cannot immediately afford the expenses.

The ministers gave their backing to the proposal during a Sept. 6 in Rīga, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Since 2009, Latvia’s consular service has been involved in 26 cases where citizens have had to be evacuated back to the homeland because of medical emergencies, according to background provided with Kristovskis’ proposal. While in many of those cases the expenses have been covered by the citizen, their relatives or various foreign or Latvian governmental or nongovernmental organizations, in some cases the costs have been prohibitive.

The proposal noted some examples of costs: one patient’s evacuation overland from Poland cost LVL 2,500; another’s evacuation by airline from Norway ran LVL 12000; a third’s treatment and evacuation from Ireland ran up a bill of LVL 80,000.

Under the proposal, a work group consisting of representatives from various government ministries and the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (Latvijas Pašvaldību savienība) is to be formed by Oct. 3. That group will have until the end of the year to develop regulations for how the emergency fund would operate.

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