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Yle head count: Roughly three out of four asylum seekers are male

Finland received nearly 11,000 asylum seekers in September, and fresh estimates from the Interior Ministry have put the expected total for the year at around 50,000. Yle turned to the experts to learn more about the people arriving and found that the vast majority - roughly three-quarters - are men.

Turvapaikanhakijoita Tornion järjestelykeskuksessa 25. syyskuuta.
Asylum seekers arriving at the Tornio registration centre on Sept 25. Image: Panu Pohjola / Lehtikuva

According to the Interior Ministry, last month nearly 11,000 refugees entered Finland. Yle spoke with head of the Immigration Services asylum unit Esko Repo and communications chief Hanna Kautto to find out more about the new arrivals. Their data includes arrivals entering the country up to October 4.

According to communications manager Kautto, so far some 19,632 refugees have arrived in Finland this year, 431 were registered on Sunday.

By the end of August the number stood at 7,015 and at the same time last year it was 2,105. Altogether 3,651 asylum seekers came to Finland in 2014.

Where are they from?

The most common locations that asylum seekers are leaving include Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Albania and Syria. Up to October 4, the number of refugees entering Finland from Iraq was 13,848, while 1,810 came from Somalia, 1,060 from Afghanistan, 676 from Albania and 409 from Syria.

Arrivals from other countries are so small relative to these numbers that they are considered insignificant, said asylum unit head Esko Repo.

What’s the gender split?

According to Kautto the vast majority of the asylum seekers – roughly 15,000 – are male. Women account for 2,816. There are close to 2,000 children traveling with adults, while unaccompanied minors number around 1,000.

Officials say the predominance of men can be explained by the fact that in some countries persecution and forced military recruitment targets young men. Young males also have a better chance of surviving an often perilous journey.

Turku University research fellow Eveliina Lyytinen said on Yle Kioski that young men are better equipped to survive long journeys undertaken in dangerous conditions. She said that the length and hazard of the trip to Europe may have skewed the numbers in favour of men.

What route to Finland?

Officials estimate that the vast majority of asylum seekers are entering Finland in Tornio via Sweden. Esko Repo of the Immigration Service said that the five most common registration points in Finland have been the Helsinki police department (22 percent), Lapland police department (11 percent), southwest Finland police department (11 percent) Oulu police department (10 percent) and central Finland police department (10 percent).

He pointed out that this data may be misleading, given that the registration point is determined by where the police officer comes from, rather than where the officer encountered and registered the refugee.

How many reception centres does Finland have now?

Kautto said that asylum seekers are being accommodated at some 80 reception centres and emergency shelters across the country.

Roughly 15 of these lodgings have been devoted to housing unaccompanied minors, Repo said.

By comparison, during the spring there were just 20-odd reception centres in the country.

How much is it costing to put up asylum seekers?

According to Repo it costs 40 euros per day to process an asylum seeker. Meanwhile the Interior Ministry estimated that accommodating each asylum seeker at a reception centre for one year would cost 15,000 euros.

The government covers all the costs related to operating reception centres. Apart from being reimbursed for putting up refugees, municipalities also receive funding from the government for providing school services for under-age asylum seekers.

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