Maarit From taught Finnish to immigrants at the Evitskog Reception Centre in Kirkkonummi on 22 July, 2016.
Maarit From taught Finnish to immigrants at the Evitskog Reception Centre in Kirkkonummi on 22 July, 2016.

Over 7,700 asylum seekers left or were removed from Finland during the course of 2015, confirms Esko Repo, the head of asylum affairs at the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri).

Uusi Suomi asked him to comment on the issue after Simon Elo (PS), a first-term Member of the Parliament, estimated in his blog that most of the additional 3,000 applicants whose whereabouts remain unknown to the authorities havealso  left the country. “A total of 9,000–10,000 applicants who arrived in the country as part of last year's massive wave of asylum seekers have already left or been removed from Finland,” wrote Elo.

Related posts:

- Finland grants additional €10M in financial support to Iraq (21 July, 2016)

- Migri announces additional reception centre shut-downs (31 May, 2016)

- Dozens of underage asylum seekers have disappeared in Finland (25 May, 2016)

- Migri: It is safe for asylum seekers to return to Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia (18 May, 2016)

- Only 25% of applicants have won asylum in Finland (22 April, 2016)

- Voluntary returns are more effective than forced ones, says Soini (18 April, 2016)

Repo declined to comment on the situation of applicants who have abandoned the asylum process but admitted that some applicants treat Finland as a transit country on their way to Europe.

“It's clear that the goal of some of the people who arrived over the eastern border was to continue their journey from Finland. We realised that we were unable to invite them to an [asylum] interview or notify them of our decision because they have disappeared,” he said.

Migri, he also confirmed, can verify that a total of 7,784 asylum applicants left the country between 1 January, 2015, and 14 August, 2016. The number includes 1,551 people who left the country independently and notified the authorities of their departure, 4,659 people who left or were removed from the country following a decision on their application, and 1,574 people who were removed from the country under the Dublin Regulation.

Repo reminded that the number of rejected asylum seekers is notably higher than the number of people who have left the country because a removal cannot be enforced before a possible appeal has been processed by an administrative court.

Approximately 1,300 asylum seekers left the country on the much-publicised removal flights to Iraq organised by the Police of Finland between February and July, reveals a spokesperson from the immigration unit of the Helsinki Police Department.

The returnees only include asylum seekers whose application was turned down or who cancelled their application voluntarily as Finland currently has no forced return agreement with Iraq.

Migri processed an additional 16,000 asylum applications over the first eight-and-a-half months of this year, granting asylum to no more than 3,900 applicants. As many as 10,000 people are therefore believed to remain in the country despite receiving a negative decision on their asylum application. Thousands of applications have similarly yet to be processed.

“Enforcing the removals represents quite a challenge for police,” admits Repo.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Anni Reenpää – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi