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Marin: New reception centres to be opened around Finland

The prime minister said the cabinet is also considering more measures in response to sharply rising energy prices.

Marin spoke with Yle during a provincial tour to Finnish Lapland on Saturday. Image: Juuso Stoor / Yle

Finland is preparing to receive more refugees from Ukraine, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) said in an interview with Yle in Rovaniemi on Saturday evening. She spoke after discussing the crisis with local residents during a provincial tour to Finnish Lapland.

Marin said it is important that the EU has agreed that those who have left Ukraine should be allowed to work and have access to school or daycare.

"We'll try to arrange as normal everyday conditions as possible for people who have fled the war," she said.

According to Marin, the Finnish people's awareness of the crisis and desire to help are high. So far, most Ukrainian refugees have settled in neighbouring countries such as Poland, Romania and Moldova.

"Some refugees have also come to Finland, but still to a relatively small extent," said Marin. No precise figures are available as Ukrainians are not required to file any paperwork for three months after arriving in Finland.

The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) said on Friday that in addition to standard reception centres, private accommodation service points may be established around Finland. These would provide reception services such as social and health services and financial support to displaced persons who have arranged their own accommodation.

So far, a large proportion of those who have fled Ukraine to Finland are staying in private accommodation.

Some of these new service points would be branches of existing reception centres. Migri's own reception centres are located in Helsinki, Lappeenranta and Oulu. Other reception centres are run by NGOs, municipalities and companies.

New support packages under consideration

Marin noted that rising energy prices are a problem throughout Europe. This is evident not only for households and motorists, but also in industry and food production.

The prime minister said the government was considering how the situation could be eased in this "very exceptional" situation.

"We've already made some decisions to alleviate the situation, but there is certainly room for further decisions," said Marin.

The premier pointed to the government's decision last week to support agricultural production with a crisis package of 300 million euros, and a comprehensive package of measures agreed in February related to rising energy prices.

The government has also recently decided to temporarily raise the tax deduction for commuters who drive to work in order to offset the increased cost of travel.

"The government will evaluate how we can help citizens, homes and motorists – especially in [parts of] Finland where distances are long," she added.

"Expensive energy affects just about everyone"

According to Marin, the EU is also considering how to together alleviate the difficult situation.

"There has even been a debate about some kind of temporary price caps for energy," she said. "The high price of energy will affect just about everyone. This is evident not only at the petrol pump but also in agriculture and therefore on store shelves and in industry."

Marin also said that Finland must prepare for any increase in hybrid activity and cyber activity. She added that all border crossings in eastern Finland could be closed if necessary.

Marin was apparently alluding to the Belarus border crisis last autumn, when tens of thousands of immigrants were pushed into the EU. Poland, Lithuania and Latvia described the crisis as hybrid warfare and human trafficking by Belarus.

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