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EU pays most asylum seekers' reception costs in northern Finland

The funds cover 80 percent of costs at nine facilities over a five-month period. Last year the number of asylum seekers arriving in Finland rose almost tenfold from 2014.

Tuvapaikanhakijoita Tornion järjestelykeskuksessa syyskuussa 2015
Asylum seekers arriving at the Tornio registration centre during a busy time in late September. Image: Tiina Länkinen / Yle

The European Commission has granted Finland eight million euros toward the costs of asylum seekers' reception services.

The EU executive tentatively approved the sum in December. On Wednesday it confirmed that Finland will receive the funds, to be used for the costs of the Tornio registration centre and eight reception centres located elsewhere in Finnish Lapland. These are located in Kemijärvi, Kemi, Rovaniemi, Tornio and Kolari.

Finland requested emergency financing from the EU last October due to a steep rise in asylum seekers, mostly crossing from Sweden into Tornio. The funds now granted are to cover 80 percent of costs at the nine facilities from September through January period.

"This subsidy rate is high at 80 percent," notes senior Interior Ministry official Liisa Sahanen.

Nearly tenfold increase

Originally Finland had asked the Union for 120 million euros to cover a year's costs. Since then the migrant situation has changed significantly around Europe and more member states have applied for funding.

Last year brought a record 32,500 asylum seekers to Finland – nearly ten times as many as in 2014. More than six out of 10 arrivals were Iraqi.

In early 2015 there were 18 reception centres for adult asylum seekers in Finland. By year's end there were 142. The number of centres for underage asylum seekers soared from eight to 68.

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