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Monday's papers: Immediate job placement trial for asylum recipients, Soini's latest thoughts and record jailbreaks

Finnish media on Monday focus on a new trial programme that finds work quickly for new asylum recipients, comments made by the Foreign Minister on Russian sanctions and Finns fighting for the Islamic State, and a US article on Finland's dubious distinction of having the most escaped convicts annually in Europe.

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Image: Yle

Helsingin Sanomat leads with a feature story on a new integration policy that tries to quickly match asylum recipients with jobs. 1,879 refugees were granted asylum in Finland in 2015 and 900 more so far this year. The Employment Ministry estimates that some 10,000 new resident permits will be issued in all, and the capital city Uusimaa region is making plans to take in 3,000 of the total.

The Finnish-owned temp agency Barona Group has begun a trial of an Express model it has developed to encourage rapid integration. As a leading employment recruiter in Finland, they have access to 3,400 businesses and, therefore, the potential to quickly locate hundreds of jobs.

The trial targeted inhabitants of Luona Oy asylum seeker reception centres (privately-held centres also owned and operated by Barona). Their education, work experience and language levels were assessed, and, for example, Barona’s construction unit pinpointed 50 with experience in the construction sector.

The Express model was developed by Fadumo Dayib, who herself arrived in Finland as a refugee from Somalia in the 1990s. She graduated from Harvard University with a master’s degree in public administration last year.

Dayib says integration in Finland has been made into a bureaucratic jungle that traumatized asylum recipients have to plough through, a solution that is not effective. She says according to the old system it took 3-5 years for asylum recipients to find work, if at all. And then they are blamed that they did not work hard enough to make it happen. 

No more coddling

Leila Palviainen worked for years as a City of Helsinki social worker assisting adults. She says the current system basically encourages asylum recipients to integrate via the social welfare programme. She is pleased it is finally being turned around and that people are being helped to find work immediately. She says refugees are adults, and therefore there is no need to be patronising.

She says she never saw the logic of forcing all newcomers – doctors, entrepreneurs and people without reading skills – through the same bureaucratic and drawn out path to integration, sometimes without a job for it in the end.

The Ministry-supported three-year trial has a preliminary objective of finding work for 1,500 people in different growth centres in Finland.

Sanctions will continue

The Kaleva newspaper out of northwest Oulu includes a story they picked up from the southwest syndicate Lännen Media. It says Foreign Minister Timo Soini has maintained that the European Union won’t be easing its sanctions against Russia in response to the Ukraine crisis any time soon. Soini says that there hasn’t been satisfactory progress in Ukraine to warrant a re-think of the sanctions.

The Foreign Minister says the Minsk agreement must be implemented before sanctions can be lifted. The means the ceasefire must be observed and illegal weapons and troops must be withdrawn. He spoke from Brussels, where he is scheduled to meet with the EU foreign ministers today on Russian relations and the crisis in Libya.  

"Barbarian hordes"

Ilta-Sanomat continues with more comments from Foreign Minister Soini, this time on Finnish residents who have travelled to the Middle East to fight for Islamic State. He told the tabloid that new information indicated that some 100 Finns have left to join the terrorist group, 20 or so of whom have been killed.

The Finnish Security Intelligence Service has confirmed that 15 to 18 people have been killed, and that official records show that 70 have joined the fighting, but that the actual number is likely larger.

Several German and one British news source reported that they acquired confidential documents from the Islamic State that reveals 2013 data on 22,000 members of the group. The authenticity of the document has not been verified and no links to Finland have yet to be uncovered.

Soini is quoted as saying that he is concerned about what will happen if the renegade fighters return to Finland. “If they have become radicalized and start cooking up something or recruiting others, we naturally want to prevent this,” he said.

Chair of the anti-immigrant Finns Party, Soini spoke about the Islamic State threat in his address to his party council over the weekend. The paper says his fiery rhetoric won thunderous cheers from his audience.

“We are not neutral when barbarian hordes execute people, bury them alive, force women into unbearable positions, and commit rape and other atrocities. Finland is not neutral, and will never accept this kind of subjugation, this kind of savagery: not inside Finland and not outside Finland,” Soini said.

Slippery convicts

Iltalehti reports on a US publication Quartz that released a short story on Finland’s jailbreaks. According to the latest statistics from the Council of Europe, Finland’s prisoners have the itchiest feet in Europe, with 1,084 escapes per 10,000 inmates.

"One in 10 Finnish convicts made a run for it in 2013, almost double the number of the next-highest country, Belgium. This was mostly down to inmates escaping from open institutions or during temporary leave," Quartz wrote.

"But even under direct supervision, Finnish inmates were Europe’s most slippery — 45 prisoners per 10,000 inmates escaped from closed prisons in 2013, more than second-ranked Switzerland, at 37," it added.

The article shows that Finland also beats the other Nordics in this rating, with 364 prison breaks per 10,000 inmates in Norway and 235 in Sweden in 2013.

Edit: 3.11 pm.The paper review was updated to attribute direct quotes to Quartz online paper.

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