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Archbishop: Compassion needed in refugee crisis

Evangelical Lutheran Archbishop Kari Mäkinen said on Saturday's Yle morning show that turning away asylum-seekers based on religion or nationality is "irresponsible". Mäkinen said that Finland should take on more refugees than the minimum mandated share, using church camping facilities as housing.

Arkkipiispa Kari Mäkinen
Archbishop Kari Mäkinen. Image: Yle

The Archbishop of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, Kari Mäkinen, says that the number of refugees being admitted into Finland is small.

"We can only see minor ripple effects of the European situation here in Finland, and we have the capacity to do more," he said on Yle's Aamu-tv morning show on Saturday.

Mäkinen says he has observed a great deal of readiness and interest among Finns to voluntarily aid in placing asylum-seekers in temporary housing.

"No one coming to Finland in flight from persecution or war should be discriminated against based on religion, which politicians such as the Finns Party's Jussi Halla-aho has called for," Mäkinen said. "It's ludicrous. Every person is equally precious and needs to be cared for."

The Archbishop says that volunteer work is important in making sure the strain of accepting tens of thousands of refugees is divided among the EU states. In Finland's case, he says, this means taking on more than the minimum requirement, calculated at 30,000 asylum-seeekers.

Mäkinen also said that churches could do more to share the burden, such as use their camping centres and other facilities as temporary refugee housing.

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