A MINIMUM of 3,408 Ukrainian nationals had sought international protection in Finland by Monday, reports STT.
“There are some delays with registration, so it’s likely that their number is a bit higher. The group includes people who have applied for both temporary protection and asylum,” Antti Lehtinen, the director of asylum affairs at the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), stated on Tuesday.
The European Union activated the temporary protection mechanism in order to offer quick and effective protection to people fleeing the war waged in Ukraine by President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The mechanism enables such people to not only reside, but also to access education, labour markets and social and health care services in the 27-country bloc for one to three years.
Lehtinen told the Finnish news agency that information about the mechanism seems to have reached its target audience well.
“On Saturday, we registered only a few asylum applications but over 200 applications for temporary protection from Ukrainians. The first applications were received on Wednesday. On Friday, the first decisions were made,” he said.
Of the Ukrainians who have registered with Migri, more than one-third are housed in reception centres.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday estimated that over three million people have fled abroad and another two million been internally displaced due to the war in Ukraine. Roughly 1,830,000 of them have entered Poland, 460,000 Romania, 340,000 Moldova, 270,000 Hungary, 210,000 Slovakia, 140,000 Russia and 1,500 Belarus.
The UN has estimated that as many as four million people may try to escape the war abroad.
Lehtinen stated to STT that it remains difficult to make any predictions about the number of people arriving in Finland.
“Estimates of how many will come to the EU differ by as much as a million. It’s naturally the biggest question. The other is how Ukrainians will move within the EU, as they can basically move freely. There are a lot of variables, but we’re prepared for an increase in the number,” he said.
Reception centres in Finland have a combined capacity of roughly 5,500 beds, 1,600 of which are presently vacant.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT