A four-person family living in Pori, southwest Finland and seeking political asylum in Finland has disappeared, according to Kaisa Huhtala, head of the local parish in Teljä.
The central Asian family reportedly feared that they would be deported from Finland while the father was receiving treatment for tuberculosis.
The man was said to be have begun the treatment in November when he was diagnosed with coronary tuberculosis, meaning that he would need another nine months of medical attention.
According to the Satakunta hospital district in southwest Finland, there are great risks associated with discontinuing treatment, since if left untreated, the condition could lead to death. There is also a risk of a medical reaction in tuberculosis carriers if care is interrupted or if it is inadequate.
"I also think it is a major risk that rejected asylum seekers can disappear underground to avoid deportation. This disrupts treatment contact and this could be harmful to others," said Raija Uusitalo-Seppälä, physician in charge of infectious diseases in Satakunta.
Migri: Illness no obstacle to deportation
The family went off-grid after receiving word that an appeal to reverse their deportation order had been quashed.
"The immigration police have told the family’s lawyer that police have set up a five-person escort for their deportation," Huhtala explained.
According to the parish priest, the family was last seen at church on the Sunday during the winter ski holiday.
"The situation is that we don’t know where they are. This has caused great sadness and distress. Parishioners are asking where they might be," she added.
The Finnish Immigration Service Migri said that a tuberculosis diagnosis does not provide an automatic guarantee against deportation, nor is there any legal impediment to deportation during treatment.