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Emergency, temporary shelter opened for Helsinki homeless

The City of Helsinki has opened an emergency shelter for about 40 homeless people over the Easter holiday weekend. Earlier this week, the migrant support organisation Free Movement Network accused Helsinki's emergency social services of turning away 22 Roma in need of shelter on Tuesday night, despite subzero temperatures.

Romanialaiskerjäläinen kadulla Helsingissä
Image: YLE

The emergency shelter is being arranged by the Helsinki Deaconess Institute at its Hirundo facility in the city's Hernesaari quarter. The accommodations will be open through the Easter holiday weekend, until it closes again on Tuesday morning.

Earlier this week the migrant support organisation Free Movement Network complained that despite subzero temperatures last Tuesday night, Helsinki's emergency social services had turned away 22 Roma in need of shelter.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Free Movement Network scolded the city's social services department.

Atlas Saarikoski, a volunteer who accompanied people to the emergency social services that night, expressed displeasure about the incident.

"In Helsinki, people are sleeping outdoors without any rights. The city has promised that during the freezing cold everybody gets a sleeping place. [The] total refusal of aid by the emergency social services was humiliating. Even the elderly and sick had to leave into the cold night, threatened by the police," Saarikoski stated.

The request for emergency accommodation was made by five women and 17 men, the group said, adding that all of them were Roma, hailing from Bulgaria and Romania.

The group said that currently there are up to 60 east Europeans who regularly sleep outdoors in Helsinki.

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