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Finland received the first relocated minors from the Mediterranean region on Wednesday afternoon

8.7.2020 18.33

On Wednesday afternoon on 8 July 2020, Finland received the first group of underage asylum seekers from Greece. The first group to arrive in Finland consisted of 24 unaccompanied children and adolescents aged between 10 and 16. Most of them come from Afghanistan.

According to a decision made by the Finnish Government, Finland will receive 175 vulnerable asylum seekers from the Mediterranean region. Finland is receiving primarily unaccompanied children and adolescents as well as single-parent families. The aim of the relocations is to relieve the strained situation for reception of asylum seekers of the countries in the Mediterranean region. 

-    “In Finland, we are well prepared and have the experience required to receive asylum seekers from the Mediterranean region. The situation on the Greek islands is very acute, and it is excellent that we can cooperate within the EU by supporting the Mediterranean countries,” says Director General Jaana Vuorio.

The coronavirus situation has been considered in arranging the relocations. Before a relocation, each asylum seeker undergoes a health examination that includes coronavirus testing.  Everyone also undergoes a second health examination after their arrival in Finland. Before being transferred to centres specially intended for minors, the asylum seekers will spend 14 days in quarantine-like circumstances in conditions similar to those of an ordinary group home.

Group homes provide children and adolescents with the support they need

Children who have arrived in Finland without a parent or guardian live either in group homes for minors or in hybrid units, where they are provided with all the necessary support services.

The Finnish Immigration Service has prepared for the relocations from the Mediterranean by expanding the current reception capacity for unaccompanied children and adolescents in the units in Espoo, Kotka, Oravainen and Oulu. In addition, a new group home is about to be established in Sipoo.

The units for children and adolescents are small and home-like. They give the children and adolescents a safe environment and the care, upbringing and attention that they need. The children and adolescents can also receive services from outside the units.

The Finnish Immigration Service wants to ensure the privacy and safety of the children and adolescents. This is why the information about their relocation is released only after the minors have arrived in Finland. In order to protect the privacy of the groups arriving in Finland, the municipalities in which they are placed will not be published in more detail.

Preparations for relocations on the way with Cyprus and Malta 

During the coming months, Finland will receive a total of 175 vulnerable asylum seekers from the Mediterranean region (Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Italy). These asylum seekers are unaccompanied children and adolescents as well as single-parent families.

At the moment, preparations for the next relocations are on the way with Cyprus and Malta. The preparations concern approximately 30 asylum seekers from Cyprus and approximately 26 asylum seekers from Malta. The majority of the minors are received from Greece, from where the next relocation will take place within a few weeks. At the moment, there are no ongoing preparations with Italy.

In the future, the Finnish Immigration Service will not inform separately of relocated groups at their arrival in the country.

The Finnish Immigration Service has received EUR 12 million in EU funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) for receiving asylum seekers from the Mediterranean region. The funding will be used to cover the reception costs, as well as other costs.

Facts: Asylum applications processed normally 

  • The asylum process begins when the asylum seeker has arrived in Finland. The asylum seeker’s application is processed in the same way as those of other asylum seekers. The only exception is that the Dublin procedure is not applied. This means that Finland becomes the country responsible for processing the application.
  • The applicant’s need for international protection is assessed through an individual procedure including an asylum interview. If the asylum seeker is a minor, he or she will be appointed a representative. The representative will be present at the asylum interview.

Media inquiries

  • Monna Airiainen, Relocation Project Manager, email: [email protected], tel. +358 295 433 037
  • Inquiries concerning reception: Mikko Välisalo, Senior Adviser at the Reception Unit, email: [email protected], tel. +358 295 433 037

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