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Monday's papers: Turkey tops new asylum seekers, global firms respond to coronavirus, mild weather to continue

Breaking down asylum seekers in Finland, Wärtsilä issues a Wuhan travel ban, and no winter weather in southern Finland.

Mikroskooppikuva koronaviruksesta.
Finnish company Wärtsilä has banned travel to Wuhan, China for its employees. Image: AFP

Main daily Helsingin Sanomat (HS) breaks down the lastest figures on who’s seeking asylum in Finland. According to the Finnish Immigration Service, Migri, people from Turkey and Russia topped the list of new asylum seekers entering Finland in 2019.

Migri reports that last year 379 Turkish nationals filed new applications for asylum, while Russian citizens lodged 313 new applications for asylum, HS writes.

Migri senior inspector Otso Paasi tells HS that while there are several reasons for Russians seeking asylum, the largest groups were from the North Caucasus region and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The North Caucasus is a restless, politically volatile area, where human rights have taken a back seat. Meanwhile being a practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses is almost forbidden in Russia, as the religious movement has been denounced as “extremist,” writes HS.

According to Paasi, among the group of Russians seeking asylum in Finland are people who have sought asylum for political reasons, or because they belong to a sexual minority.

As for Turkish nationals who sought asylum in Finland, the largest reason was membership or assumed membership in the Islamic Gülen movement, which has political overtones and is named after US-based Islamic cleric Fetullah Gülen. Turkey has accused Gülen of plotting a coup against the country in 2016.

In total, last year Finland received 4,550 applications for asylum, writes HS. Of those, 2,467 were new applications. In 2019, the largest number of people granted asylum in Finland were Iraqis (682), followed by Russians (168). The Russian figure represents a large increase over the previous year -- in 2018, 15 Russians were granted asylum in Finland.

Wärtsilä bans travel to Wuhan, China owing to coronavirus

Business daily Kauppalehti writes about the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on Finnish companies operating in China. According to Kauppalehti, marine and energy markets firm Wärtsilä has now forbidden its employees to travel to China’s Wuhan district owing to the coronavirus outbreak.

Officials suspect that the coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan at a market selling live animals, writes Kauppalehti.

Wärtsilä has more than 1,000 employees in China, of whom about ten are Finnish nationals.

Another global Finnish company, lift and elevator firm Kone has maintenance operations in many parts of China, including Wuhan. With about 18,000 employees in China, Kone has not yet set a coronavirus travel ban, communications director Hanna Rutanen says in an interview with the paper.

"We are trying to avoid unnecessary business travel and do as much work as possible remotely. We’re currently monitoring and following the recommendations set by the World Health Organization and the International SOS," Rutanen told the paper.

Mild weather to stay

Despite this morning's round of slushy snow in the capital region, Helsingin Sanomat’s sister tabloid Ilta-Sanomat (IS) writes that the current long-range weather forecast doesn’t call for a proper (read: snowy) winter to arrive in Southern Finland any time soon.

IS reports that a large part of Finland, which has not yet seen proper winter weather, will not see it in the next month either.

According to forecasts, the mild weather will continue for another four weeks in Southern Finland through to at least Monday, 23 February. The only exception is Lapland, which is currently experiencing colder than average temperatures.

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