The first of the roughly three dozen removal flights organised by Finland since 2016 departed from Helsinki Airport towards Iraq on 18 February, 2016.

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The Ministry of the Interior has issued a press release to straighten out the misconceptions circulating as part of the public debate, especially on social media, kindled by the removal of unsuccessful asylum seekers from Helsinki to Kabul on Sunday.

The much-discussed flight, it stresses, was a regular removal flight: six such flights have already been organised this year to add to the roughly 30 that were organised last year.

The flight was carried out without incident and all of the ten people ordered to leave the country arrived safely in Afghanistan, according to the Ministry of the Interior. The deportees, it adds, were accompanied on the flight by a medical practitioner, whose services were not required during the flight.

The Ministry of the Interior reminds that removals are a regular feature of asylum procedures across the European Union.

It stresses that applicants who have yet to complete the asylum procedure will not be removed from the country under any circumstances. Unsuccessful asylum applicants additionally have the right to appeal the negative decision, a right that had been taken advantage of without exception in the case of the ten people removed from the country on Sunday.

“The removed individuals had therefore completed the appeals process,” a ministry spokesperson says.

Roughly one hundred unsuccessful applicants a week return, either voluntarily or involuntarily, from Finland to their country of origin, including Afghanistan, the Ministry of the Interior tells. The monthly number of voluntary returnees is approximately 150.

The Ministry of the Interior also assures that the security situation in the country of origin is taken into consideration in all asylum-related decisions made by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) and in the subsequent decisions by administrative courts.

“If the security situation changes, it will be taken into account in the decision-making,” it states.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Handout – Helsinki Police Department

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