Refugee reception centres being founded in Finland are constantly receiving offers of help that they are not yet able to accept due to logistics. Finnish Red Cross workers say public opinion regarding Finns’ attitudes towards refugees has been skewed – giving the impression that Finns are hostile toward newcomers.


Iraqi refugees at a reception centre in Lahti
Iraqi refugees at a reception centre in Lahti


“My faith in Finns has returned,” says Finnish Red Cross refugee reception centre building coordinator Juha Tammela. 


“We have been flooded with offers of help. We don’t yet have in place the processes for channelling the huge number of assistance offers. To my great dismay I just had to tell someone that we couldn’t accept a large donation of furniture,” says Tammela.


Many refugee reception centres have been founded in eastern Finland, one of them will start operations in a former seniors home in Mikkeli. In a few weeks time the first asylum seekers will be settling into the facility that is about 10 kilometres from the city centre.


“This will be a long-term housing facility, as processing current asylum applications may take several months,” says Tammela.


Although not all of the local residents are welcoming refugees, Tammela says that the public image of Finns strongly opposing refugees doesn’t hold true.


Weekend demonstrations


Mikkeli is one of the municipalities where anti-refugee and pro-refugee demonstrations are being organised for the upcoming weekend.


 “It’s important that people can express their opinions. I hope, however, that all of the demonstrations remain peaceful,” says Tammela.


When it’s ready in a few weeks time, the Mikkeli reception centre will house about 300 people.