Answers to questions regarding accommodation arrangements for Ukrainians and Russians
The accommodation in reception centres of Ukrainians and Russians has recently given rise to public discussion.
On 4 October 2022, the Finnish Immigration Service announced that Ukrainians and Russians would no longer share living spaces in reception centres. The decision came after Ukrainians related fears caused by Russian asylum seekers being housed in the same spaces. Ensuring that its clients feel safe in Finland is a key principle guiding the operations of the Finnish Immigration Service.
The policy became applicable immediately in the case of new Russian asylum applicants. Those who have stayed in the country longer will be separated by the end of October.
“As the reception system is currently accommodating a record number of people, the scale of the required arrangements is considerable. These take time, but we are off to a quick start,” said Director General Ilkka Haahtela.
Accommodation arrangements are made with the diverse circumstances of those in the reception system in mind. Reception centre residents include families with members of both nationalities, for example. Other factors, such as children attending school in a particular locality, will also be taken into account.
The Finnish Immigration Service has received further questions about the situation. These are particularly related to the ways in which the decision regarding the new arrangements is put into practice across the various reception models. There are different types of reception centres, whose roles in the reception system also vary.
Transit centres to implement new arrangements next week
Finland currently has a total of 83 reception centres, branch offices, and service points for those with private accommodation. There are also eight units for unaccompanied minors. In addition to the Finnish Immigration Service itself, reception centres are operated by municipalities, companies, and organisations.
Generally, those seeking asylum or temporary protection arrive at a reception centre via so-called transit centres.
Of the total number of reception centres, five are transit centres. Three of these, namely the Lappeenranta (Joutseno), Helsinki and Oulu centres, are operated by the Finnish Immigration Service. The reception centres in Turku and Vantaa, run by the Finnish Red Cross and Luona Oy respectively, also serve as transit centres. In addition to these, certain other Capital Region reception centres run by external service providers operate as transit centres under the current circumstances, with a large number of clients in the reception system.
The primary purpose of transit centres is to house newly arrived applicants for international protection. They accommodate those who are waiting for their asylum interview or are staying at the centre for a longer period for other reasons.
The new arrangements, which are to be implemented in all reception centres, have been promptly put into practice at the transit centres in Oulu and Turku, with the Capital Region and Joutseno centres set to follow by the end of next week.
Majority living in separate apartments or private accommodation
The currently operational reception centres include institutional and apartment-based centres as well as hybrids of the two. New centres, which are largely apartment-based, accommodate residents in their own individual apartments.
Multiple apartments may be located in the same buildings, or they may be spread out across different parts of the locality. Reception centres are responsible for the placement of clients in the apartments.
The Finnish Immigration Service requires that the reception centres take the sensitive nature of the situation and clients’ sense of security into account in all operations.
The number of people registered in the reception system currently exceeds 40,000. Many of them have organised private accommodation for themselves with relatives or volunteers, for example. The majority of Ukrainians are not living in reception centres: In addition to those staying in private accommodation, some 10% live in accommodation organised by municipalities as part of the municipal model for accommodation of people applying for temporary protection.
Even if they have chosen to live in private accommodation, all asylum seekers and those applying for or receiving temporary protection are registered at a reception centre or service point. This centre provides reception services, including social and healthcare services, as well as information, advice, and instructions. Ukrainians and Russians staying in private accommodation may be registered at the same reception centre.
The Finnish Immigration Service is responsible for directing, planning and supervising the operations of the reception system.
Record number of people currently registered in the reception system
More people are currently registered in the reception system than ever before. This year, Ukrainians have submitted 41,002 applications for temporary protection.
Recently, there has been an increase in the number of asylum applications made by Russians. Following the military mobilisation in the country, Russians have submitted 361 applications for asylum, compared with a total of 777 in 2022.
- Ilkka Haahtela, Director General of the Finnish Immigration Service, tel. +358 295 433 037, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Interview requests: Press and Communications Services of the Finnish Immigration Service, tel. +358 295 433 037, email: email@example.com