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Monday's papers: The cost of alienation, refugees from Russia, hazardous roads

Items in the Finnish newspaper press on Monday ranged from the costs to society of leaving some members behind, to warnings of extremely slippery roads. Refugees and a stranded pup also made it into the papers today.

Daily newspapers.
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

The lead item in Monday's Turun Sanomat, the main daily in the south-western coastal city of Turku, says that dealing with the consequences of social alienation costs Finland at least 2.1 billion euros annually. According to the paper, two-thirds of the alienated are young people.

The figure quoted by Turun Sanomat includes only basic social security income costs and the minimum calculated loss of the contribution these people could be making to the economy if they were in the workforce. In fact, the cost is much higher if one includes the impact of the use of intoxicants and of crime, both of which are higher among marginalised segments of society.

There are at least 70,000 people considered to be alienated from society. Pekka Myrskylä of Statistics Finland told Turun Sanomat that the criteria include individuals who are uneducated, not working, not in military service, not retired, not studying or not taking care of children in the home.

The greatest risk factors are a lack of education, immigrant background and homelessness.

Two-thirds of those classified as alienated are between the ages of 15 and 29. However, a study by Pekka Myrskylä shows that up to 60% of young people in this category are able to reconnect with society.

Change on the border

The newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that the situation on the border of Finnish Lapland with Russia has changed as Russian authorities are allowing asylum seekers to head for Finland without visas.

It points out that crossing the border without proper travel documents, a visa, residence permit or other valid entry document is a crime. However, applying for asylum eliminates any culpability.

The refugee influx on the north-eastern border now also involves human smuggling and organized activity. Ilta-Sanomat quotes a Finnish border guard official as saying that there are 70 cases related to offenses under investigation.

In the past, Finnish officials commended Russia for actively preventing illegal entry from its territory into Finland, writes Ilta-Sanomat.

Hazardous roads

The Tampere-based Aamulehti this morning reminds motorists that with temperatures easing up above the freezing point driving conditions will become extremely hazardous.

FMI Meteorologist Antti Kokko told the paper that the thermometer will move above zero Celsius on Tuesday morning with sleet or snow moving in from the southwest. Sub-zero conditions will continue for a while in the east and north, but late in the day will rise above freezing all the way up to Southern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu.

Driving conditions are already extremely hazardous in coastal areas, from the south all the way up to Vaasa.

Wednesday is expected to be the most dangerous day on the roads this week when temperatures will fluctuate above and below freezing in southern and central regions. Conditions on smaller roads will be especially hazardous.

And, while the certainty of the forecast diminishes towards the end of the week, Kokko told Aamulehti, "It is certain that winter is not yet over."

Dog rescue

Several papers, including the newsstand tabloid Iltalehti today tell the tale of the Maritime Search and Rescue service rescue Sunday of a dog from ice floes just off the coast of Helsinki.

Sotku being rescued.
A view of the rescue operation posted by the Finnish Coast Guard on its Twitter account. Image: Finnish Coast Guard

Sotku, a mixed-breed dog, was with his mistress Emilia Gustafsson visiting the island of Vallisaari when apparently the scent of a fox led it to venture out across the frozen sea to the nearby island of Suomenlinna.

However, before Sotku could make it back the passenger ferry Silja Serenade sailed though the strait between the two islands, breaking up the ice. A sharp-eyed passenger aboard the ship saw the panicked dog among the floes and phoned the Maritime Search and Rescue service.

When they arrived on the scene, Sotku, according to one rescuer, "clearly wet and tired". The next passenger vessel was scheduled to pass through the strait with the hour.

"We started thinking how we can actually rescue this dog," Oiva Juntunen of the Helsinki Maritime Search and Rescue station told Iltalehti. "The floe could easily tip over and the dog go into the water...We had a survival kit onboard that contains a chocolate Mars bar that we used to lure the dog to our rescue swimmer. Some pats, some petting and some more chocolate and we got him aboard."

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