Kolari asylum seeker: Matters haven’t improved at all at the reception center

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Even if the deputy manager of the Kolari asylum reception center, Jari Sillantie, got fired on Thursday, matters at the camp haven’t gotten any better, according to an asylum seeker contacted by Migrant Tales

“We’re served the same food [soup] for three days and when we ask why the staff doesn’t want to talk to us,” the asylum seeker said. “They hate us. Two employees told us that if we don’t like things here, we can go back to our country.”

The asylum seeker believes that the staff “hates them” because of what happened to the deputy manager on Thursday.

How does one react if the employee told the asylum seeker that he should leave Finland if he doesn’t like it? What about if an asylum seeker at the Kolari reception center sends you the following messages below on Wednesday and Friday?

Näyttökuva 2016-5-17 kello 21.41.06
Edited version: “If you can please help us to move from here because I swear we are very tired and we are dying here. Please (help us to) move from here.
Näyttökuva 2016-5-17 kello 21.40.38
Edited version: “Hi brother, please help us as we are very hungry. We don’t eat the same food they serve us every day. No one eats it: the children, women. Everyone here is tired if you can just help us so we can move the whole family from here.”

Or a picture like the one below yesterday?

Näyttökuva 2016-5-17 kello 16.22.24
A Kolari asylum seeker throwing away his food.

Why do some asylum centers, like the one in far-flung Kolari, persist in making the inhabitants suffer because of food they consider horrible?

Sure, some of us may get angry because they don’t like food that we’d probably wouldn’t touch or have to eat for months.

Why not solve the problem and let them make their food?

According to the asylum seeker, a woman who works in the kitchen made two types of soup. One was for the asylum seekers and another for the staff, or Arabic lentil soup, which the inhabitants had taught her to make.

“When I asked her if we could eat the lentil soup, she said it wasn’t for us and would throw it in the trash instead of giving it to us,” the asylum seeker continued.  “She too told us that if we don’t like things we should go back to where we came from.”

Are these isolated cases or a pattern at the camp? What is the Red Cross doing after Sillantie got fired and what does it plan to do in order to make the lives of these asylum seekers more bearable?

Migrant Tales understands that some children at the camp may have the measles, but their parents believe it may be more serious since the building “is dirty and smells.”

“I spoke with the owner of the hotel, and he said that it’s only for 70 people, not for 130 [129] as now,” the asylum seeker continued. “He said that it was made to house people for 3-4 days not for months [as our case].”

“The kids cannot do anything here because there is no playground and they can’t play anywhere,” the asylum seeker concluded.

 

  1. baba

    I am very sad because these stories have made the situation between th staff and refugees difficult. Showing pictures where refugees throw away food is like throwing gasolin to fire. Before the refugees were cooking with the stuff and the staff, specially “the woman in the kitchen” liked them. Then there was demonstration and people were saying food is bad and this is like Quantamo. It was really hurtful for local people who have done lots of voluntary work to support them. Some mistakes in MT article made things worse (for example about the payments). If you are a journalist like you say you are, you should travel to Kolari and hear more than one asylum seeker about how they think. Because there is also other opinion but the asylum seekers are afraid to tell it because the others. The situation whatever, the most important thing would be get things going locally. Will this post help? Will it really help the asylum seekers there or does it make the conflict worse? I do hope you will go to Kolari and see for yourself, talk to others too, talk to staff, talk to locals. That’s journalism.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Baba, thank you for your comments. I hope to visit Kolari one day. I am only one person trying to bring news about such an asylum seeker. Papers like Lapin Kansa and YLE have a lot of reporters and resources to investigate thoroughly what is going on there. Why don’t they? Is it because asylum seekers aren’t that important to them? Is it because writing about asylum seekers runs against the anti-immigration sentiment so sadly present in Finland today?

      The protester holding the “Guantanamo prison” sign comes from a staffer at a Vantaa asylum center who threatened to send an asylum seeker to Kolari, which he called Finland’s Guantanamo, if he didn’t behave.

      I’m certain that there are a lot of people that have helped these asylum seekers and I raise my hat to them.

      Why do you think Jari Sillantie was fired?

  2. Yossie

    “The asylum seeker believes that the staff “hates them” because of what happened to the deputy manager on Thursday.”

    Well, they keep telling how much they hate the place and the food. Guess what, staff is locals that make their food. So they are ultimately saying they hate the staff, they just get the feeling back.

    “Sure, some of us may get angry because they don’t like food that we’d probably wouldn’t touch or have to eat for months.”

    Or propably the food is exactly the same that is served in schools and workplace cafeterias all over Finland.

    “If you can please help us to move from here because I swear we are very tired and we are dying here. Please (help us to) move from here.”

    Such drama queens. If Kolari means dying to them, can we trust anything they say? Lies! Lies! Lies! They tell they die if they go back home? Well if their idea of dying is equal to Kolari, then they can go back home just fine!

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