Finnish Immigration Service coordinates the reception of evacuees from Afghanistan
In Finland, the Finnish Immigration Service has been responsible for the reception of the evacuees from Afghanistan. The Situation Centre of the Finnish Immigration Service has directed the operation and has coordinated the cooperation of authorities at the airport.
Tens of Finnish Immigration Service officials have participated in the operation at the airport and in support services. In addition to the Finnish Immigration Service, the authorities participating in the operation include, among others, the Border Guard, the police, Finnish Customs, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and the Social Emergency and Crisis Center of the city of Vantaa. Finnish Red Cross has been present, helping with the arrangements and handing out food, hygiene packages and blankets to the people arriving and soft toys to children.
“Despite the difficult situation of the people who arrive here, the atmosphere at the airport has been calm. We try to make the arrival situation as unhurried as possible. Interpreters have an especially important role in providing information to people in their own language,” says Pekka Nuutinen, Director of Reception Unit at the Finnish Immigration Service.
The age range of the people evacuated from Afghanistan is broad, and there are several families among the evacuees. Among the evacuees are also children, and the youngest ones are babies.
The Situation Centre has worked on tasks related to the evacuation operation almost around the clock.
“The Situation Centre is experienced in reacting quickly and in coordinating reception activities in situations where people are arriving from difficult circumstances in crisis zones,” says Nuutinen.
The Situation Centre was established in autumn 2015, when a large number of asylum seekers arrived in Finland during a short time period. At present, its tasks include readiness operations, reception arrangements related to asylum seekers’ accommodation, compiling instructions for reception centres on current topics and providing the authorities with up-to-date situation reports on reception services.
Evacuees will move from reception centres to municipalities as soon as possible
Those who have been evacuated from Afghanistan by decision of the Finnish Government have initially been accommodated in reception centres across the country to wait for the granting of a residence permit. Among the evacuees are also unaccompanied minors. They have been housed in units specially intended for children and adolescents.
“The work at the reception centres has had a good start. They are solving practical problems since those who have arrived have had hardly any personal belongings or luggage with them,” says Nuutinen.
At the reception centres, the situation of each evacuee and their need for support is assessed individually. In addition, acutely needed social and health services, for instance, are arranged at the reception centres.
At first, those who arrived in the country were tested for COVID-19. Due to the coronavirus situation, the arrival into the country includes a 10-day quarantine period, which may be shortened with COVID-19 tests.
The Finnish Immigration Service is responsible for the residence permit processes of those Afghans evacuated to Finland by decision of the Government. Once a residence permit has been granted, the evacuees will move to municipalities. A goal has been set to keep the time they need to spend at a reception centre as short as possible. Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment will agree with the municipalities on the municipal places offered to the evacuees.
Approximately 80 asylum applications submitted by evacuees from Afghanistan
Upon arrival to Finland, approximately 80 asylum applications have been submitted by persons travelling on evacuation flights from Afghanistan. Most of them are family members of persons who have received consular assistance.
Overall, the number of asylum seekers coming to Finland is still low at present.
Confirmed statistics will be published in mid-September.
Earlier press releases:
Press release by the Finnish Immigration Service on 25 August 2021: Finnish Immigration Service prepared to receive additional evacuees from Afghanistan in accordance with Government decision
Press release by the Ministry of the Interior and the Finnish Immigration Service on 23 August 2021: Flight carrying people evacuated from Afghanistan has arrived in Finland
- Reception: Pekka Nuutinen, Director of Reception Unit, tel. 0295 433 037 , email: [email protected]
- Asylum matters and permit processes: Antti Lehtinen, Director of Asylum Unit, tel. 0295 433 037, [email protected]
- Interview requests to Jari Kähkönen, Director General of the Finnish Immigration Service: Communications Unit, tel. 0295 433 037, email: [email protected]