There are about 700 to 1,100 people in Finland who have stayed in the country without a residence permit despite receiving a negative asylum decision, according to an estimate by the Association of Finnish Municipalities.
The figure includes between 30 and 50 families with children.
The estimate is based on the results of a survey into social and health care services provided by municipalities to failed asylum seekers, but the association emphasised that there is considerable uncertainty as to the reliability of the figure and that further research is required.
"In their replies, the municipalities stated widely that the figures given are partly estimates," specialist Ellen Vogt of the Association of Finnish Municipalities wrote in a press release. "However, this is the first time that this phenomenon has been extensively mapped out."
The survey found that municipalities do not necessarily, or reliably, separate those who have received a negative decision into their own group, nor do they track people who may be present in the records of several different municipalities or services.
Furthermore, people with a negative asylum decision do not necessarily apply for services, even if it may be known that they are within the territory of a certain municipality.
The association stated in its press release that social and health care services have been provided to people who have received a negative asylum decision, in accordance with guidelines issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
The association’s questionnaire was sent to 166 of Finland’s 310 municipalities in February, and the results cover areas with more than three quarters of the country's population.