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Eurajoki resorting to shipping containers to house asylum seekers

Officials in Eurajoki in southwest Finland have decided to use refurbished shipping containers to accommodate some 150 asylum seekers due to arrive in the city this weekend. However Finns Party councilors say that the city’s environmental committee was deceived into granting a permit to use the containers for housing refugees.

Kontti sisältä, turvapaikanhakijat majoittuvat tänne Eurajoella.
Interior view of a container to be used to accommodate asylum seekers in Eurajoki. Image: Karri Laihonen / Yle

City officials in Eurajoki have been locked in a heated battle over plans to put up incoming asylum seekers in former shipping containers. The containers were previously used by workers employed on the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant construction site.

The temporary housing was organised by a private company and the Finnish Immigration Service.

Finns Party up in arms

Finns Party councilors in the Eurajoki municipality say however that the city’s environmental committee was misled into issuing a permit to use the containers to house refugees. They point out that a temporary building permit issued in October made no mention of accommodating asylum seekers.

They add that the permit was granted to one company, which then rented the containers to another firm that is now setting up a reception centre.

"We are calling for the rental agreement to be voided and we are considering launching an investigation. The committee has been misled," said Tomi Salonen, chair of the Eurajoki Finns Party councilors’ group.

City denies subterfuge

Salonen stressed that in his view the municipality had done nothing wrong. Instead he said he believed that the permit applicant had acted inappropriately.

Head of the Eurajoki environmental department Jouko Vastamäki pointed out that the containers still had a valid permit to be used for the purpose intended.

"Rumours that something illegal has occurred are baseless," he added.

Ministry: Another 10,000 berths needed this year

Earlier in November the Finnish Immigration Service warned that Finland would have to resort to putting up asylum seekers in tents and containers because of a shortage of accommodation.

Meanwhile the Interior Ministry estimated that officials would still have to find lodgings for 10,000 asylum seekers this year.

Cities such as Turku and Joutseno had already started placing new arrivals in tents. The director of reception centre facilities in Eurajoki said that the containers are a significantly better alternative than tents for providing berths for asylum seekers.

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