Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo (Greens) spoke during a question-time debate in the Parliament House in Helsinki on Thursday, 13 February 2020. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

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MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR Maria Ohisalo (Greens) believes the Finnish government is on the same page about the need to try to help underage asylum seekers in the most difficult situation in refugee camps in Greece.

Ohisalo stated on YLE’s A-studio on Wednesday that her colleagues from other member states have put pressure on her to help the children in what is quickly becoming a critical situation.

Finland, she reminded, is on the external border of the European Union, similarly to Greece.

“We’re also a country with a long external border. If we find ourselves in a pickle some day, I sure hope we’ll get help,” she said.

The Ministry of the Interior has begun to explore the possibility of responding to the request for assistance from Greece. The issue has also been discussed within the government and with, for example, representatives of the Centre in the Parliament’s Administrative Committee, according to Ohisalo.

“The Ministry of the Interior has looked into who we should help and on what criteria at the joint request and desire of the government. We’re still waiting for the government’s decision,” she told.

YLE asked Ohisalo about the ages of the children who could be re-settled in Finland. It has been reported that around 10 per cent of the 5,000 underage asylum seekers living in the camps are under 14 years old and that some of them are there without their parents.

Greece pleaded with its fellow member states to help children in the refugee camps as early as last October.

“I think the discussions we’ve had in the government have recognised that we should try to help children in the most difficult situations,” reiterated Ohisalo.

Ohisalo also criticised the asylum policy of the European Union, saying the 27-country bloc has failed to make any progress on the so-called burden-sharing mechanism, for example. The European Commission is expected to present its proposal for developing the mechanism during the first half of the year.

“These children have no hopes for future. The European Union turning its back completely on Greece – to the agony, the humanitarian crisis of these people – is shameful from the viewpoint of its values,” she slammed.

The Finnish government, she reminded, has agreed to maintain its annual refugee quota at 850–1,050 for the entirety of the electoral term.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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