When asked about how the government reacted to the 32,476 asylum seekers that came to Finland in 2015, the answer is simple: The government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä states that they did a good job in finding shelter for such people. Well, sort of…
Even if many asylum centers, their management, and staff did a good job, it’s clear that many didn’t.
One reason why the government isn’t too excited about talking about those asylum reception centers that have operated poorly is because it would be a political embarrassment. Close to a billion euros have been spent on taking care of asylum seekers. Has the government got what it paid for?
What a bad investment,no? First, you invest hundreds of millions of euros and then you proceed to kick two-thirds of them knowing that our population is aging and that we need labor. But hey, they’re Muslims, right?
Throughout the year, Migrant Tales has exposed a number of reception centers that have done a poor job in serving and helping asylum seekers.
After we started reporting more of these cases from January, the Finnish media started to get interested as well.
But before that, the national media wasn’t very keen at all. When we approached Helsingin Sanomat in January, a reporter turned down our findings because they were similar to what pensioners suffer at rest homes.
Little by little, Helsingin Sanomat started to report more about the abuses that asylum seekers suffered at some reception centers, particularly those run by a private company called Luona.
Some of the complaints from asylum seekers made about reception centers were that they were treated “like livestock” and that it costs money to live in what an asylum seeker called a reception center “hell.” One Iraqi in Helsinki said that the first word he learned in Finnish was vittu, or f**k, because the Luona staff commonly used such a word to address the asylum seekers.
There are many more shameful examples of abuse and unprofessional treatment that have gone unreported in Finland. Even so, we have exposed a number of cases: asylum reception centers run by Luona, which has reception centers in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Hyvinkää; a reception center in Kolari run by the Red Cross where asylum seekers were charged 0.50 euros for a tomato, among other serious issues; Villa Meri (private company Mehiläinen); and Keuruu (Red Cross), where people are not allowed to celebrate religious and cultural holidays.
In our attempt to give asylum seekers a voice, some of our efforts have paid off. One such case was the Kolari asylum reception center where the deputy manager was sacked in May.
Reports of abuses and poor management continue to reach us. The latest one comes from the Laajakoski asylum reception center near Kotka, where the management, among other complaints, allegedly tells asylum seekers to go back to their country if they don’t like it here.
The Laajakoski reception center is located near Kotka in southeastern Finland. It started operating in January. Read the full story (in Finnish) here.
Migrant Tales has a recording of a manager of the Laajakoski reception center telling an asylum seeker who is crippled to go back to his country because the manager doesn’t want to give him a pillow and blanket.