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Finland bracing for Syrian refugees

Finland has informed the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR that it is prepared for an emergency intake of Syrian refugees as part of its refugee quota. However the UN agency has not so far indicated that it needs Finland's help to resettle civilians fleeing the country’s civil conflict.

Pariskunta suree kankaalla peitetyiden ruumiiden ääressä.
Syyrian opposition välittämässä kuvassa kerrotaan pariskunnan osallistuvan kaasuiskussa kuolleiden hautajaisiin Damaskoksessa keskiviikkona. Kuvan aitoutta ei ole voitu vahvistaa. Image: Shaam News Network / AFP

According to Finland’s Interior Ministry, the country is prepared to receive refugees from Syria. Interior Ministry Päivi Räsänen said Finland is in ongoing discussions with the UN Refugee Agency over how it can help in the current crisis.

Up to the end of July just 51 Syrians had sought asylum in Finland. The government has so far earmarked 12.1 million euros in assistance to be used to aid refugees and for local activities in the war-torn country.

Finland’s 2013 refugee quota stands unchanged at 750 places, 100 of which have been reserved for emergency cases.

Chemical warfare allegations escalating conflict

Onlookers fear a further escalation of the internal conflict if western powers intervene, following claims that the regime of Bashar Al-Assad used chemical weapons against civilian targets in a Damascus suburb.

The United States and Britain in particular may be looking to use military action draw a “red line” in the conflict as evidence increasingly points to the use of the highly toxic weapons by the regime.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said he would not support military intervention in Syria, preferring negotiations to end the country's civil war. He added that the UN Security Council should take the lead in Syria once chemical weapons investigators have completed their work.

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