During December though January, the Finnish Immigration Service will be closing three reception centres and abandoning plans for three more.
The centres now scheduled for closure are located in Vantaa, at Parikkala in South Karelia, and at Merikarvia the province of Satakunta. There are plans for new centres in the far north at Kittilä, Pello and Ylitornio.
Interior Minister Petteri Orpo indicated late last month that centres judged as being too remote for rapid police operations would be closed down.
Police have listed around 30 reception centres where security should be improved or alternatively should be shut. However, in the current situation with the daily arrival of hundreds of asylum seekers widespread closures are not feasible.
Finland will be establishing two centres to house asylum seekers who are facing deportation after their applications have been rejected, or who wish to voluntarily leave the country. Both of these centres will be in the south of the country and operate in conjunction with existing reception centres. The first of these, for voluntary returnees, is to be opened immediately. The centre for rejected asylum seekers is to be opened by the end of January.
Updated Afghanistan assessment
The Finnish Immigration Service on Tuesday also updated its security situation assessment regarding Afghanistan. It still considers certain provinces in the south and east of Afghanistan to be unsafe, but it says there are there are large areas in the country with no security threats. A number provinces, and parts of some others, are now classified as safe and protection will no longer be granted to asylum seekers arriving from those areas.
In addition, the services stated in its update that a difficult security situation in the applicant's region of origin in itself does not provide sufficient grounds for being granted asylum or a residence permit in Finland. The applicant's internal flight alternative, in other words relocation to a safe area in the home country, is always assessed.
The processing of asylum applications by Afghan nationals was suspended at the beginning of November while awaiting a fresh security assessment. Both applications on file and new applications will be reviewed in light of the Immigration Service's latest policy.
A similar updated security situation assessment regarding Iraq during the autumn reclassified several areas as being safe which made it more difficult for Iraqi nationals to gain asylum in Finland.