Finland to begin checks for asylum seekers at Lapland border

Interior minister announces measures to step up border controls with Sweden, describing the flow of refugees and migrants into the country as “out of control”.

National Coalition Party Interior Minister Petteri Orpo Image: Anni Reenpää / Lehtikuva

Finland will increase checks at its Lapland border with Sweden, the country’s interior minister announced on Monday, claiming that the situation with refugees and migrants entering the country is “out of control”.

Petteri Orpo made the announcement at an emergency meeting of EU interior ministers on Monday, where delegates are trying to reach agreement over which countries will accommodate 120,000 people who have arrived in Greece, Italy and Hungary.

Official reports estimate that within a short time, 1,600 asylum seekers have arrived in Finland, the majority entering across the country’s open, northern border with Sweden.

A reported 300 refugees and migrants crossed the Lapland border into Finland on Sunday, while trains from Lapland towards the south of the country were also said to be carrying hundreds of people.

Migration officials in Sweden have said that many asylum seekers are making their way to Finland because they believe processing times will be faster than the average two years an asylum claim takes to be heard in Sweden.

Increased surveillance

Speaking in Brussels, Orpo said that surveillance of the border will be increased in order to register anyone attempting to enter the country without the required papers.

He said that Finland is not planning to re-instigate full border checks, although he said that officials have the capacity to do so if necessary.

Orpo also announced the establishing of a holding centre for asylum seekers, most likely in the northwest town of Oulu. People seeking asylum would be held there for a week before being moved to another reception centre elsewhere in the country, he said.

The Interior Ministry has allocated 150 workers to help alleviate the pressures caused by the volume of people arriving, he said.