First asylum seekers from the Mediterranean to be relocated to Finland in July

22.6.2020 13.42
Press release

The first approximately 25 minors from Greek refugee camps will arrive in Finland in early July. The exact date of the relocation is not yet known. In addition to Greece, Finland will be receiving relocated asylum seekers from Cyprus and Malta.

The Finnish Government decided on 27 February 2020 that Finland would receive 175 vulnerable asylum seekers from the Mediterranean region. Not all of the 175 will arrive in Finland at the same time. It is likely to take some months to complete the relocations.

The first relocation was originally scheduled for June but had to be postponed in Greece due to practical reasons. Suitable representatives must be found in Greece for all unaccompanied minors, and all minors must be interviewed before they are relocated in order to assess what is best for them. All of the asylum seekers also have to undergo a medical examination. 

‘Greece, the European Commission and the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) are working hard to get all unaccompanied minors moved from the Greek islands to the mainland and to prepare the children for relocation as soon as possible,’ explains Relocation Liaison Officer and Project Manager Monna Airiainen from the Finnish Immigration Service.

Finland will receive a total of one hundred unaccompanied minors from Greek refugee camps. Single parents with their children can also be relocated from Greece. As far as Cyprus and Malta are concerned, the plan is to relocate both unaccompanied minors and single-parent families, a total of approximately 30 asylum seekers from Cyprus and approximately 26 from Malta. The schedules will be decided later. 

Finland to receive vulnerable asylum seekers

According to the Government’s decision, the asylum seekers to be relocated to Finland must be originally from especially dangerous countries and likely to be in need of international protection. Finland has shared the criteria decided by the Government with all the countries from which asylum seekers will be relocated, and the countries make their proposals of individuals to be received by Finland on that basis. Finland cannot pick the individuals who are put forward, but it can check whether the proposed asylum seekers satisfy the criteria set out in the Government’s decision. 

- ‘All of the asylum seekers whom Finland receives from the Mediterranean region will have vulnerable status,’ Ms Airiainen explains.

The majority of the minors in the refugee camps on the Greek islands are over 14 years of age, and less than 10 per cent of them are girls. The Finnish Immigration Service’s decisions on the asylum seekers to be relocated to Finland will be based on prioritising the youngest minors or minors with special needs. The age and gender distribution of the minors due to be relocated is very likely to also show in the groups arriving in Finland. 

Safe environment and home-like conditions

The unaccompanied children and young people arriving in Finland from the Mediterranean will be housed in group homes or hybrid units designed especially for minors. The units are small and comfortable.

The units give the children and young people a safe environment and the care, upbringing and nurturing that they need. Help can also be brought in from outside the units if necessary. 

Coronavirus situation to be taken into account in the relocation process

The planning of the relocations will take the coronavirus situation into consideration. Each asylum seeker will undergo a medical examination, which includes a test for coronavirus, before they can be relocated. A second medical examination will be performed upon their arrival in Finland. While the pandemic is still ongoing, the examinations will focus particularly on coronavirus symptoms. Any symptomatic individuals will be retested in Finland.

The minors arriving in Finland will also be quarantined for 14 days before they can move into their new homes. In practice, they will spend the 14 days in conditions similar to those of an ordinary group home.

Key facts: asylum applications to be processed as normal 

  • The asylum process will begin once the asylum seekers have arrived in Finland. The asylum applications will be processed in the same way as those of all other asylum seekers. The only difference is that the Dublin procedure will not be applied, meaning that Finland will be the state responsible for processing the applications.
  • The need for international protection will be assessed as part of the individual process, which includes an asylum interview. Underage asylum seekers will be appointed a representative who will accompany them to the asylum interview.

Further information for the media

Monna Airiainen, Relocation Liaison Officer / Project Manager, Asylum Unit, e-mail: [email protected], tel. +358 (0)295 433 037

Questions about the reception process: Mikko Välisalo, Senior Adviser, Reception Unit, email: [email protected], tel. +358 (0)295 433 037

26.6.2020 at 16:40: Clarification about the relocation being postponed due to practical reasons/arrangements in Greece.