News |

Disappointed Iraqis cancel asylum applications

In recent weeks the Iraqi Embassy in Helsinki's posh Kulosaari neighbourhood has been busy as Iraqis have queued up for temporary passports to leave the country.

Video: Walaah Ala-Hassan
Video

Some of the Iraqi asylum seekers who have arrived in Finland this autumn have decided to return to Iraq. In September and October, for instance, more than 700 Iraqis cancelled their asylum applications.

Officials at the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) say that some Iraqis have apparently had incorrect assumptions about Finland's asylum policy.

"Many of them have arrived in Finland with an idea that everything would be arranged quickly and that family reunifications would be easy. For many it may have been a shock when the truth emerged about how long the asylum process takes," says Migri communications officer Kaisa Härkisaari.

Queuing for passports

In recent weeks the Iraqi Embassy in Helsinki's posh Kulosaari neighbourhood has been busy as Iraqis have queued up for temporary passports to leave the country.

One of those waiting in line this week was Walaah Ala-Hassan from Baghdad. She came to Finland because she believed that she would have a better, safer life here. Before coming to Finland, she spent two years in Turkey.

"Living here is so difficult because I can't [get] comfortable here because my camp is so bad in Jyväskylä. And I can't stay in Jyväskylä. When you need anything, we don't find anything. And my Mom needs me again and I want to go for her."

Ala-Hassan says she is afraid to go back to Iraq "because that situation's so bad".

Ala-Hassan, who dreams of a career as a dentist in Dubai, says she came to Finland to complete her university studies in dentistry.

"A European degree is always good. Studying in Baghdad is difficult at the moment," Ala-Hassan says. "But it's so difficult here, the language is so difficult, and....yeah."

Tougher rules

Iraqis account for more than 60 percent of the 26,000 asylum seekers who have arrived in Finland this year.

In late October, Migri changed its guidelines for which areas of Iraq are considered safe, in effect making it harder for Iraqis to obtain asylum here.

Latest in: News

Headlines

Our picks

Latest