Updated situation reports for Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia

20.12.2018 11.22
Press release

The Finnish Immigration Service has updated its situation reports on the security situations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

The guidelines of the Finnish Immigration Service will remain largely unchanged. In Afghanistan and Somalia, the security situation continues to be unstable. In Afghanistan, there are still several areas to which, owing to the security situation, asylum seekers cannot be required to return. In Iraq, the level of violence against civilians has continued to fall. The terrorist organisation ISIS is nevertheless capable of carrying out attacks and still poses a significant threat in Iraq.

In each case, the Finnish Immigration Service examines whether the asylum seeker is specifically at risk of persecution or serious harm in his or her home country. The agency also assesses whether it is safe, possible and reasonable for the asylum seeker to relocate to another area in his or her home country. Simply stating that an asylum seeker is from Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia will not automatically give him or her the right to international protection.

If the level of violence in a certain area is categorised as extremely high, everyone residing in the area is deemed to be at risk. In that case, a person may be granted subsidiary protection on the basis of their place of origin.

The Finnish Immigration Service publishes situation reports on the countries every six months. Because the security situation in the countries in question can change quickly, up-to-date country information for asylum decision making is produced continuously.

High number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan

The security situation in Afghanistan remains unstable. The threat of indiscriminate violence is extremely high in several regions of the country, which is why no one is required to return to these areas. The areas include:

  • Helmand province;
  • the districts of Tirin Kot, Dehrawud and Chora in the Uruzgan province;
  • the southern districts of Achin, Kot, Nazyan, Chaparhar, Bati Kot, Pachir wa Agam, Khogiani, Deh Bala/Haska Mina and Rodat in the Nangarhar province;
  • the districts of Ghorak, Khakriz, Maiwand, Nish and Shah Wali Kot in the Kandahar province.

Parliamentary elections were held in Afghanistan in October. Prior to the elections, violence perpetrated by the Taliban movement against voters and election organisers escalated. The presidential election is scheduled for April 2019. During the summer and autumn, there has been fighting, for example in the provinces of Faryab and Ghazni.

The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan during 2018 has remained at a high level. The highest number of civilian casualties has been in the province of Nangarhar.

Humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan have deteriorated on account of violence and drought. An increasing number of Afghans are in need of humanitarian aid.

In September, the Finnish Immigration Service updated its assessment. The Finnish Immigration Service is of the opinion that the general situation has deteriorated with regard to internal flight (Release 12 September). Internal flight can be considered only in limited situations.

Violence against civilians in Iraq has decreased, ISIS remains a significant threat

Currently, the agency does not consider there to be any areas in Iraq where the level of armed violence is so extreme that all those returning to the area would be at risk of being subjected to armed violence. Every asylum seeker’s need for international protection is assessed individually when the asylum decision is made.

In Iraq, the level of violence against civilians has continued to fall. The number of victims reported by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) were the lowest since monitoring started in 2012.

The terrorist organisation ISIS no longer controls significant areas in Iraq. The organisation does, however, still control some outlying desert areas and abandoned villages in different districts. ISIS has not targeted any large army units, but does continue to attack security forces and civilians.

There have been recurrent demonstrations, also involving violence, in Iraq this year. There have been protests, especially in towns in southern Iraq, on account of the water crisis, corruption, unemployment and the lack of basic services.

Southern and central Somalia are the most affected parts of the country

There has been no significant change in the unstable security situation in Somalia since June. The most serious threat to security is still the Islamist organisation al-Shabaab which, despite strikes against it, has not shown any signs of weakening.

The most difficult situation is in southern and central Somalia, where fighting between al-Shabaab and the government has continued.

Insecurity in different parts of Somalia is also caused by violence between clans. Recently, there have been clashes between clans in the provinces of Hiiraan, Galgaduud and Sanaag. The human rights situation in the country is difficult.

Further information for the media

  • The situation reports are now available in Finniish on our website at
  • Senior Adviser Juuso Hyvärinen, Legal Service and Country Information Unit, tel. +358 295 430 431, email: [email protected]

Facts: Key concepts pertaining to asylum decisions

Asylum (Aliens Act, section 87, subsection 1)

  • A person can be granted asylum if he or she has a well-founded fear of being persecuted in his or her home country or country of permanent residence.
  • The reason for persecution must be ethnic origin, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
  • The person cannot avail himself or herself of the protection of an authority in the home country because of this fear.

Subsidiary protection (Aliens Act, section 88, subsection 1)

  • Subsidiary protection can be granted if the requirements for granting asylum are not met, but substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the person, if returned, would face a real risk of being subjected to serious harm.
  • Serious harm means a situation where the person is at risk of the death penalty, execution, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • Subsidiary protection can apply also if the person cannot return without facing serious personal danger because of indiscriminate violence arising from an armed conflict in the home region.

Internal flight (Aliens Act, Section 88 e)

  • The possibility of internal flight is determined for all asylum seekers at risk of persecution or serious harm, that is, whether it would be possible for them to relocate to another area in their home country.
  • Internal flight must be safe, possible and reasonable for the asylum seeker. These decisions are made on an individual basis and take the personal circumstances of the asylum seeker into consideration.

Facts: Country of origin information is part of asylum decisions

  • At the Finnish Immigration Service, researchers from the Country Information Service prepare a report on the security situation in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia every six months.
  • The information is gathered from several different sources, including the UN refugee agency UNHCR, international and local human rights organisations, non-governmental organisations, research institutes, and researchers from other immigration services.
  • Based on the researchers’ reports, the Legal Service and the Asylum Unit of the Finnish Immigration Service formulate a country guideline, which includes an assessment of the types of situations in which asylum seekers can be granted subsidiary protection on the basis of the security situation in their home country.
  • The level of violence caused by an armed conflict is evaluated regionally, on a scale from low to extremely high.
  • Factors that affect the assessment include the number of civilians killed or injured, how the violence is manifested, the number of people who have fled internally, the nature of the conflict and its geographical sphere of influence and the everyday living conditions of the local population.
Press release