Some of the 626 asylum seekers who arrived in Finland last week were accommodated at a reception centre in Hennala, Lahti.The Ministry for Foreign Affairs will continue with the communication campaign it launched in an attempt to reach out to people considering embarking on a journey for asylum already in their country of origin.

The Finance Committee of the Parliament has decided to allocate an additional 230,000 euros for the campaign.

A number of asylum seekers have selected Finland as their destination on the basis of misinformation and have been disappointed to realise after their arrival that the application process is not quite as straightforward as they expected.

Timo Soini (PS), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, voiced his satisfaction with the funding decision while unveiling the budget of the foreign affairs administration on Wednesday.

Ville Vähämäki (PS), a deputy member of the Finance Committee, pointed out that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) reached as many as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis with a series of Arabic-language bulletins published on Facebook in October.

“The campaign will continue as the additional allocations allow us to hire people who can provide topical and accurate information in Arabic and Somali about the conditions in Finland and the probability of receiving asylum,” he said.

The unveiled cuts in development assistance allocations, however, received a frosty welcome from the opposition parties.

Jutta Urpilainen (SDP), a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed her disappointment with the decision of the Finance Committee not to reduce the capitalisation of Finnfund and re-allocate the funds for the development assistance efforts of non-governmental organisations – contrary to the recommendation of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

More than 30,000 asylum seekers have entered Finland since the beginning of the year, despite a recent decrease in the number of arrivals. A total of 626 asylum seekers crossed the border into the country last week, representing a decrease of 11 from the previous week and a new several-month low.

The Finnish Government has unveiled a comprehensive action plan on asylum policy in an attempt to stop the uncontrolled flow of asylum applicants into the country, bring the associated costs under control and promote the integration of successful applicants. The action plan will also enable authorities to expedite the removals of people whose asylum applications have been turned down.

A spokesperson at the regional office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Helsinki has revealed that several asylum seekers – especially from Iraq – have recently withdrawn their applications.

Olli Pohjanpalo, Juho-Pekka Pekonen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Antti Hämäläinen