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Tuesday’s papers: Refugee worries, blocked adoption, rude road sign

Syria, a refugee adoption case, and a vulgar, but accurate road sign are among the items in the morning's newspapers.

Pekka Haavisto
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

The Oulu-based Kaleva reports an interview with Finland's foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, on the situation at the Turkish-Syrian border in which he said that the EU is extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation, the increased number of refugees and growing problems for civilians in northern and north-eastern Syria.

According to Haavisto, international organizations were prepared to deal with 100,000 internal refugees, but fresh reports from the region have changed the picture. These organizations now believe there will be up to 400,000 people fleeing the fighting.

"A humanitarian crisis is at hand," Foreign Minister Haavisto said in a phone interview with the Finnish News Agency STT.

Turkey has partnered with the EU to stem the flow of refugees into Europe, receiving economic aid for the some 4 million displaced persons in the country, 3.6 million of which are from Syria.

According to the Haavisto, these refugees are focused on returning to their homes, not to Europe or the border zone Turkey is trying to establish.

"If someone wants to turn them towards Europe, they will have to do a lot of work to do so. These people didn't leave for Europe before, but have been waiting to be able to go back home," stated Foreign Minister Haavisto.

No to refugee adoption

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, carries a front-page feature about the continuing, but so far unsuccessful efforts of a Finnish couple to legally adopt an adult asylum seeker.

Erja and Timo Noroviita, a retired couple in the southern coastal city of Loviisa volunteered at a local refugee reception centre near their home, working with asylum seekers who came to Finland in 2015.

It was there they met Zirak Bayati, an Iraqi asylum seeker, now 33 years of age, took him under their wing and brought him into their family and thought of him as a son.

In time, the Noroviitas decided they wanted to legally adopt Zirak. The adoption application was rejected.

There were two main factors working against the plan. Zirak Bayati is an adult. His application for asylum has been rejected, although the decision is being appealed.

In rejecting the adoption application, the court said that Bayati is too old for adoption and that his ties with the Noroviita family were not established during childhood.

The adoption of an adult in Finland is possible only under exceptional circumstances and even then applicable in cases of the children of blended families or foster children who for some reason could not be adopted as minors.

No separate statistics are kept on the adoption of asylum seekers, but the Finnish Immigration Service told Helsingin Sanomat that it was unable to say if there has been even a single adoption of anyone undergoing processing for possible asylum.

Zirak Bayati is now in the situation that he has not been granted asylum, but be cannot be deported because Iraq refuses to accept forced repatriations.

The number of paperless individuals has risen in recent years. According to some estimates, there are several thousand in the country, most of them young Iraqis.

"In practice, Finland has made thousands of people paperless migrants," Erja Noroviita said to the paper. "Instead, there could be another alternative."

The Noroviitas have appealed the decision against Zirak Bayati's adoption. A second rejection is so likely that their own lawyers declined to take the case.

President in Africa, on to Japan

The tabloid Ilta-Sanomat is among the papers with an item on President Sauli Niinistö's first visit to an African nation, starting on Tuesday.

President Niinistö is on an official visit to Ethiopia on Tuesday and Wednesday.

During his stay, he is scheduled to meet with leaders there including his Ethiopian counterpart Sahle-Work Zewde, and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Niinistö will speak at a conference on climate change and be one of the keynote speakers at an event focused on women's economic empowerment.

Turun Sanomat reports that President Niinistö and his spouse Jenni Haukio are scheduled to travel to Japan on the 21st of this month to attend the coronation of Emperor Naruhito.

Those bleeping potholes

A road sign in the rural reaches of the town of Kangasala, just east of Tampere, has locals chuckling and the authorities fuming, according to the daily Aamulehti.

Drivers in the area recently noticed a road sign warning of potholes with an addition explanatory sign attached, in official-looking colours and font, reading "Koko perkeleen tie" - roughly translated, "The whole damn road".

The paper sent out reporter to check on the sign who confirmed its accuracy.

Aamulehti says its investigation has been unable to determine if the extra note has been posted by the City of Kangasala, the local Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency, the road maintenance board, or a disgruntled local.

One thing, it says is for sure though - the strong language has enhanced the effectiveness of the warning.

Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment intends to remove the extra information from the sign and is considering filing a criminal complaint.

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