Finland Swamped by Migrant/Refugee Tsunami

Three-fourths of “Syrian refugees” entering Finland are young males, and most are from Iraq, Somalia, and Afghanistan, according to Finland’s Interior Ministry. Nearly 11,000 asylum seekers entered Finland during the month of September, the Finnish news agency Yle reported on October 5, quoting officials from the Interior Ministry and Immigration Services.


While much of the U.S. media coverage of the European Union’s migration crisis has focused on the massive waves of migrants flowing into Austria, Hungary, Italy, and Germany, all the member states of the European Union are being affected. Finland is no exception; by October 4 some 19,632 refugees had arrived in the Nordic state this year — and many thousands more want to get in.


“Up to October 4, the number of refugees entering Finland from Iraq was 13,848, while 1,810 came from Somalia, 1,060 from Afghanistan, 676 from Albania and 409 from Syria,” Yle reported.


According to Hanna Kautto, Immigration Services communications chief, the vast majority of the asylum seekers — roughly 15,000 — are male. Women account for 2,816. There are close to 2,000 children traveling with adults, while unaccompanied minors number around 1,000.


The costs are mounting dramatically. Earlier this year Finland had 20 reception centers and emergency shelters for refugees. That has now ballooned to more than 80 centers and shelters, with still more needed to accommodate the increasing flow. According to Finnish officials, it costs €40 ($44.98) per day to process an asylum seeker, and accommodating each asylum seeker at a reception center for one year would cost €15,000 ($16,866.75).


Due to the ongoing migration crush, the Finnish Interior Ministry is calling for the government to more than double their asylum funding to €114 million ($128 million), up from the current €54 million. Those numbers, however, deal with only some of the more immediate, obvious economic costs, and do not, of course, include the social costs. Local governments are bearing much of the brunt of the migration overload. The migrant numbers Finland is experiencing would be a destabilizing influence in any country, but because it is a small nation of only 5.5 million people, with a struggling economy, the influx into this Nordic state is especially problematic. Young Finnish nationals have been leaving Finland for years, seeking employment in the EU and the United States. The influx of large numbers of uneducated, non-native-speaking Muslims will exert profound pressures on unemployment and welfare benefits, not to mention tensions between native Finns (who are bearing the refugee costs) and the new arrivals, who are competing with the Finns for jobs and benefits.


The Finnish daily Savon Sanomat reported on October 5 that Deputy Managing Director of Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities Timo Kietäväinen has issued sharp criticism of the national government’s state budget proposal for not including the funding needed for municipalities to carry out immigrant integration programs. The funding in question is provided to local governments once immigrants are granted residence permits. The government’s budget proposal for next year includes €144 million for this purpose, €47 million more than this year. However, Kietäväinen notes that the proposal is based on an estimate of 15,000 asylum seekers, of which 8,000 would gain residency. These figures are highly unrealistic, he stated, in light of the latest estimates of up to 50,000 arrivals this year.


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