The Finnish Immigration Service announced on Wednesday it is updating its assessment of the security situation in Afghanistan and in the meantime would freeze asylum applications of Afghan nationals. The agency said it would review EU-wide practices and examine «possibilities to return applicants to Afghanistan.»


Locals said to be fleeing a battle zone in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province


The Immigration Service announced on Wednesday that it is reviewing the security situation of the country of Afghanistan and freezing the asylum applications of thousands of Afghan nationals during that time.


«The decision-making concerning Afghan asylum claims will be frozen until the security assessment and the guidelines for making decisions are completed,» Immigration Service Director General Jaana Vuorio stated in a press release on Wednesday.


«The pending applications from Afghan nationals are to be decided equally according to the same guidelines that may possibly change,» she stated.


The agency said that the asylum applications by Afghan nationals would be determined after the security assessment of Afghanistan was complete, regardless of whether the applications were made before any eventual changes in policy.


«Every asylum decision is made in accordance with the guidelines that are valid when the application is decided. The date when the application was submitted makes no difference,» Vuorio stated.


The agency recently revised its security assessment of the country of Iraq, and shortly afterwards declared parts of the country safe enough for some Iraqi asylum seekers to be returned to.


According to the Immigration Service, some 25,308 asylum seekers have arrived to Finland so far this year.


Asylum seekers from Afghanistan make up eight percent of that figure, some 2,071 applicants. The agency said that about half of the Afghan asylum seekers arrived in Finland since the beginning of October, according to the Immigration Service.