On Friday, for the first time, more asylum seekers from Afghanistan than from Iraq arrived at the Tornio reception centre. Overall, however, 70 percent of all migrants coming to Finland still hail from Iraq.
On Friday 126 asylum-seekers arrived to the Tornio reception centre, but for the first time since the influx of migrants began there, the majority were from Afghanistan, not Iraq.
The National Bureau of Investigation says that of Friday’s newcomers 61 were Afghanis and 49 were Iraqis, all of whom became registered asylum-seekers.
Lapland police communications director Elina Katajamäki says it is too early to tell whether the number of migrants from Iraq is on a sustained decline. Until Friday, the number of arriving Iraqis had remained fairly uniform.
«Roughly speaking about 70 percent of the asylum-seekers arriving in Finland are from Iraq,» Katajamäki says.
The Tornio centre, located near the northern border with Sweden, was established in late September. Since then, migrants from Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iran and Eritrea have arrived to the facility, she says. The number of families requesting asylum has also risen slightly.
Katajamäki says it’s possible some that Iraqis may now be turning their sights towards other European countries after the Finnish Immigration Service’s widely-reported change of security assessments.
The Service recently announced that it no longer considers certain parts of Iraq unsafe enough to grant all Iraqi applicants asylum in Finland.
Centre running smoothly
Katajamäki says the Tornio reception centre operates exceptionally well. The centre employs police staff from all over the country.
«We have received messages from migrants saying they are here to work and to stay. The work morale is high here, as is a sense of community,» she says.
Some one hundred newly registered asylum-seekers left the northern Finnish border town in buses, headed for reception centres across the country – especially towards the capital region.
All in all 9,276 asylum-seekers have arrived in Finland since the beginning of the refugee crisis.