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Migri prepares for influx of asylum applications from Ukraine

The immigration agency plans to increase accommodation capacity at its reception centres.

Maahanmuuttovirasto / Migri / Ratapihantie 11 / Pasila / Helsinki 13.04.2020
Migri has received over 100 asylum applications from Ukrainians since the war began. Image: Jouni Immonen / Yle
Yle News

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) is preparing for an increase in asylum applications from Ukrainian citizens following Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The agency has received nearly 100 asylum applications since the conflict began last Thursday. The number of applications submitted since the beginning of the year now totals 108.

According to Pekka Nuutinen, the Director of Migri's Reception Unit, the number of applications is still relatively small.

"The majority are those that have already been prepared in Finland. About 10 applications have been submitted from across the border," he states.

Nuutinen says that it is difficult to assess the current situation accurately.

"More Ukrainians may have crossed the border without officially applying for asylum yet," he notes. Ukrainians are allowed to stay in EU countries without a visa for 90 days.

Finnish police are also gearing up for the influx of Ukrainian refugees.

Local police departments, including those in Ostrobothnia and Southeastern Finland, have only received a few asylum applications so far, but police expect a significant increase in coming weeks as Ukrainians attempt to flee the war.

Asylum applications can be submitted directly to the police or border control authorities. They are then transferred to Migri for processing.

Finland has 27 reception centres for refugees, including 20 centres for adults and families and seven for unaccompanied minors.

"There are currently over 1,000 accommodation spaces available, but this will be increased soon. Reception centres are also preparing for the arrival of Ukrainian refugees," Nuutinen says.

According to UN estimates, over 600,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes since Russia began invading the country.

In addition to preparing for the influx of refugees, Finland also reportedly plans to send aid to Ukraine's neighbour Moldova.

In a tweet, Finnish Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen says that Finland will send across temporary housing such as multi-purpose tents that can accommodate 4,500 people.

According to Mikkonen, Moldova, one of the poorest countries in Europe, has already taken in over 70,000 asylum seekers from Ukraine.

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