Skip to content

Record numbers of asylum-seekers, reception centres strained

With a record level of asylum-seekers arriving in Finland so far this year, reception centres throughout the country are being filled to capacity. The largest numbers have been arriving to Helsinki where they are being transferred out of the city due to a lack of space in the capital's facilities.

Image: Yle

Helsinki's reception centre facilities report that the influx of applicants for asylum has created a critical lack of housing. As a result, asylum-seekers are being transferred on a weekly basis out of the capital to other parts of the country.

"We no longer have enough beds, but have had to use the floor and children's units as accommodations. The next step is then bussing applicants elsewhere. For example, yesterday a busload left here for the Joutseno reception centre in Lappeenranta," says the director of the Helsinki reception centre, Leena Markkanen.  

Police in Helsinki attempt to interview all new asylum-seekers, but have now found that they don't have the time to schedule interviews with all before they are transferred elsewhere. Instead, interviews are being held at sites where applicants are transferred.

The trend is nationwide. While there is still some room for newcomers at the Joutseno centre, it, too, is filling up.

Largest numbers from Somalia and Iraq

According to the Finnish the Finnish Immigration Service, the growth in the numbers of asylum-seekers is a direct result of multiple crises. The largest numbers seeking refuge in Finland are from Somalia and Iraq.

"One could say that there is a real rush on. In May, there were over 500 [new] asylum-seekers, which was a record in Finland's history. In June, we've reached 200 a week. This is very exceptional," explains Johan Similä of the Immigration Service's asylum unit.

Efforts are underway to expand reception capacity to meet the growing need. For example, a reception centre at Punkalaidun in the Pirkanmaa region of central Finland which was closed last November is being reopened. At many other centres, the number of residential spots available is being raised.

One spin-off is more jobs for locals.

"This work is creating economic activity, especially in smaller communities where an extra 10-15 new jobs is significant," Immigration Service Reception Director Jorma Kuuluvainen points out.

Latest: paketissa on 10 artikkelia