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Ministry: Tens of thousands of Ukrainians to arrive in Finland

The number of arrivals has accelerated, with more now reaching Finland in weaker physical and psychological condition.

A Ukrainian mother and child arrived at the Polish border on February 27, 2022. Image: Wojtek Radwanski / AFP

The Interior Ministry estimates that tens of thousands of displaced people from Ukraine will arrive in Finland. The number of arrivals has accelerated this past week, while those arriving are in poorer physical condition and more likely to be traumatised.

At least 7,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Finland since the Russian invasion began on 24 February. No exact figures are available as they are allowed to travel freely once they reach the European Union, and are not required to register on arrival in Finland.

Anna Rundgren, a senior specialist at the Ministry of the Interior, estimates that the actual number is several times higher. Ukrainians may stay in Finland for up to three months without filing any paperwork, and some are staying with relatives or friends here.

"The number of arrivals has grown sharply over the past week and the trend seems to be continuing. We can’t give an exact estimate, but it's likely to be in the tens of thousands," Rundgren told Yle on Saturday.

Reception centres re-opening

She expressed confidence that Finland will be able to manage the situation even if the numbers increase.

In 2015, a record number of asylum seekers arrived in Finland during the refugee crisis, a total of 32,476 people. More than 20,000 of them were from Iraq, along with more than 5,000 from Afghanistan.

Most of the reception centres that housed them have been closed, but some are re-opening.

The EU has granted Ukrainians fleeing the war the right to study or work and obtain health care and accommodation in reception centres for up to three years.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that more than three million people have fled the war in Ukraine, some two million of them across the Polish border. Many other nearby countries have received hundreds of thousands of refugees.

The EU has ruled that those fleeing the war in Ukraine do not need to apply for asylum, but can obtain a temporary residence and work permit as they are entitled to temporary protection.