Skip to content

Thousands of illegal immigrants in Finland

Finland is home to some 4,000 undocumented migrants—a number much higher than previously believed. YLE’s current affairs programme Silminnäkijä (Eyewitness) says the figure is based on information from officials, aid workers and immigrants.

Ali elää piilossa Suomessa, koska hän pelkää tulevansa tapetuksi Afganistanissa. Image: Yle

Illegal aliens are a diverse group, including asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected, those running from so-called 'honour' crime and victims of human trafficking. Some are simply foreigners with expired visas.

One thing these people share is the fear of being caught. Foreign citizens who are in Finland illegally typically stay with friends and acquaintances.

No benefits outside society

Finland’s centralised social security system makes it difficult for people to manage without a Finnish social security number, which is, for example, demanded at banks and hospitals.

Modelled on a similar operation in Sweden, the Global Clinic was established in Helsinki earlier this year to provide illegal migrants with access to basic healthcare—at a secret location.

“It’s inconceivable that there are people on Finland’s streets that don’t qualify for any medical care,” says Ville Holmberg, a physician at the Global Clinic.

Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen has meanwhile spoken out against anonymous clinics for illegals, noting that illegal migration is a continent-wide problem that should be mutually solved.

Undocumented workers often work off the books, increasing the risk of exploitation.

“I worked seven days a week. It was difficult to get paid because I was in the country illegally,” says John, who worked as a cleaner at a restaurant in Helsinki.

An estimated eight million illegal immigrants live in Europe.

Watch the segment online here.

Latest: paketissa on 10 artikkelia