The Finnish government's ministerial working group on immigration has finally approved a plan to "prevent and manage" illegal residence in the country. It confirms that undocumented people have a right to essential basic care and subsistence.
The centre-right cabinet has been wrangling over the wording of the plan since at least November, when it was originally supposed to have been announced. The final details concerning social and health care services were hammered out before the blueprint was announced on Friday.
The plan, which has been coordinated by the Interior Ministry in cooperation with other ministries, focuses on migrants who remain in Finland after having their asylum applications rejected. Most of these either cannot be returned to their homelands or stay at reception centres, yet refuse to leave Finland, in some cases going underground.
There are now an estimated 11,000 rejected asylum seekers in Finland. This group could potentially swell into the tens of thousands as the backlog of last year's nearly 33,000 applications is processed. Most of those applications have been or will likely be turned down.
The plan instructs municipalities to offer emergency housing to those who are evicted from reception centres, including food and acutely-needed aid such as essential medication. The state has pledged to reimburse local authorities in full for these costs.
Keeping closer tabs
Meanwhile monitoring by police and other officials will be stepped up in order to gain an up-to-date picture of those living in the country illicitly. This will be done in partnership with reception centres, border and coast guards, municipalities, Regional State Administrative Agencies, the Social Insurance Institution (Kela) as well as parishes and NGOs.