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Finland takes in 10 child refugees from Greece

The Finnish government committed to taking in 175 asylum seekers from EU camps last year, with priority given to children and single-carer families.

Kaksi lasta kävelee pakolaisleirissä Kreikassa.
The majority of the asylum seekers have come from refugee camps in Greece. Image: Dimitris Tosidis / AOP
Yle News

A group of 10 asylum seekers, all aged under 18, arrived into Finland from a displacement camp in Greece last Friday, meaning Finland has now fulfilled its commitment to house vulnerable refugees from camps in the Mediterranean region.

According to figures supplied by the Finnish Immigration Service Migri, a total of 169 asylum seekers have arrived from camps in EU countries since July 2020, with almost half now located in different municipalities across the country.

About half have so far received their asylum application decision.

Finnish authorities stipulated at the time of the commitment that priority would be given to children and single-carer families, who have a greater chance of being eligible for international protection. More than 100 asylum seekers have since arrived from refugee camps in Greece, 14 from Cyprus, 27 from Malta and four from Italy.

A number of individuals from camps in Greece, Malta and Italy are still yet to come to Finland.

Most of the asylum seekers transferred to Finland are citizens of Afghanistan or Somalia.

"These transfers are a way to help vulnerable people," Migri's project manager Camilla Rautala said. "All asylum seekers transferred to Finland are from a country with a weak security situation or they are in need of international protection."

Each arriving asylum seeker underwent a medical examination, including a coronavirus test, prior to their departure from the country of origin, and each had a health check-up on arrival in Finland. They also spent two weeks in quarantine before being transferred to reception centres specialised in dealing with minors.

Migri has received 12 million euros in EU support for the financing of the transfers.

Finland's government decided to help after Greece called on other EU member states to take in children and young people who were housed in its refugee camps.

The UNHCR says that Greece was accomodating some 186,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including 5,000 unaccompanied children, at the end of 2019.

"This is a humanitarian decision and shows that Finland respects human rights," interior minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) said at the time.

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