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Thursday's papers: Support centre for the undocumented, teenage violence, first snow?

This Thursday's dailies feature news on a new support centre for undocumented migrants in Helsinki, the rising trend of violence among teens, together with projections on the date of this year's first snowfall.

A demonstration protesting Finland’s 'unfair and arbitrary' asylum decisions was held on Thursday morning outside the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) office in the Kalasatama district of Helsinki.
Negative asylum decisions lead to migrants being delcared undocumented and eventually deported. Image: Yle

Helsingin Sanomat runs a piece this Thursday on a new support centre being established in Helsinki, specifically intended to help undocumented asylum seekers feel safe and get by.

The location of the centre is not public knowledge, as the administrators fear reprisal from anti-immigration proponents.

"Our focus is on the physical safety of our customers," says project chief Kirsi Rantala. "We are not in the business of hiding people, but undocumented people have the right to visit the centre safely."

The centre is a joint venture between the Finnish Red Cross (SPR), the Helsinki Federation of Evangelical Lutheran Parishes and aid organisation Sininauhaliitto ("Federation of the Blue Cross ").

The centre's runners say in the HS piece that they expect dozens of visitors a day to their secret haven, which is open to all but geared towards supporting undocumented people. Many asylum seekers who arrived in 2015, for instance, will soon face negative asylum decisions and be cast outside of the protection of the state and of reception centres, essentially becoming illegal aliens.

The SPR's multicultural programme developer Eva Kuhlefelt says she is most sorry about the scarcity of information that asylum seekers receive.

"Some of them do not know what phase their application is in, how to contact a lawyer or what the Finnish Immigration Service or an Administrative Court is," she says in HS.

Help and information are available in Arabic and Dari, and visitors also have the chance to wash clothes, attend cultural events and meet others in a safe environment.

"The police know about the centre," says parish worker Marita Nummelin, referring to the undocumented status of the centre's customers. "We respect their work, and they respect ours."

Aggression common among youths

Regional paper Aamulehti's front page piece is on the rising tide of violence among young people in Finland. The article states that violent crimes committed by under 18-year-olds have risen in recent years, making up 10 percent of all assaults in the Pirkanmaa region so far in 2017.

Last week a mass fight broke out in the parking lot of amusement park Särkänniemi, raising concerns over the welfare of teenagers. Central Finland police chief Jari Kinnunen calls group brawls uncommon, but the amount of teenage violence has grown, allegedly aggravated by drug abuse.

"None of these crimes have been committed sober," Kinnunen posits in AL. "Teen fights usually occur in public places and involve narcotics, money, consumer goods or debt collection."

Young men are often the main perpetrators of aggravated assault. The one attempted murder reported this year, however, involved a 17-year-old girl who stabbed a child welfare worker in January, AL writes.

"If we had more manpower, our patrols could make even more of a difference on the streets," Kinnunen says.

Snow on the way?

Finally tabloid Ilta-Sanomat features a long-projection weather story with chilly implications. Winter is on its way, as meteorologists carefully concede that the first snow may fall in the north as early as next week.

Temperatures will continue to drop nationwide in the days to come, with cold air moving into Lapland from the Arctic Ocean. Subzero conditions are expected on clear autumn nights; but chilliness is not enough for precipitation to freeze into snowflakes, says meteorologist Kristian Roine from Foreca.

"The cold snap has to coincide with a precipitation front in order for snow to be likely. What happens after next week when a dry front retreats and a new low pressure front comes in is anyone's guess. These are time periods that test the limits of our prognoses."

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