Adam,* an undocumented and homeless migrant from Ingushetia, a troubled region of Russia located near Chechnya, is a Muslim who applied for asylum in Finland in 2012. He got in touch with Migrant Tales a week ago and asked if we could help him.
“I came to Finland when I was 24 and today I’m 29 years old,” he said, adding that it upsets him that he has lost so much time in Finland.
According to Adam, he left Ingushetia because of the Russian policies, which have tried to quell by force its aspirations to separate from Russia.
Finland’s tightened immigration policy is one culprit that has caused the number of undocumented migrants to soar from a few hundred to thousands.
Adam admits that he suffers from hunger because he eats once a day and depends on help from a variety of places like the Church. “I almost always feel hungry and feel exhausted,” he said.
Adam says he’s been suffering from sleeping disorders for 5-6 years after he left Ingushetia.
One of the darkest periods of his stay in Finland was when he ended up at the Joutseno immigration removal center for a year. Since 2017, after his release, he became undocumented and homeless.
It was Adam’s aunt who advised him to seek asylum either in Finland or Sweden. He chose Finland.
Adam said that he paid 90,000 roubles, which was at the time about 1,500 euros, to help him cross the border to Finland.
In February 2016, he was forced to move out of the asylum reception center after two rejections from the Finnish Immigration Service and the district court.
“The people at the reception center said I was free to do what I wanted,” he said. “But I had no place to go and did not have any money. I went to the Helsinki Railway Station and told the security guard that I was going to steal something. He called the police, and I was able to sleep in a warm cell for one night.”
During that same year, Adam was detained by the police again and sent first to the Metsälä immigration removal center in Helsinki and then to Joutseno, where he was locked up for a year awaiting deportation.
A view of the Joutseno immigration removal center where children are locked up with their parents. According to Adam, this is the same courtyard where the inmates were allowed to walk outside for an hour.
“Joutseno was a tough place to live,” he explained. “Every day when I woke up, I asked where I was, and everything was the same. I used the time to learn Finnish, read books, surfed the Internet, and watched TV. I did sport, but there is no place where you could do sports. They only let you walk in a court for an hour every day.”
Adam said that the year at the Joutseno immigration removal center changed him for the worse. “Every time I think about the year I spent there,” he continued, “why they robbed me of a year, I get upset.”
He doesn’t understand why he was not deported to Russia.
“I think it is because I don’t have any documents or proof of identity,” he explained. “I was detained for a year [at Joutseno] because that is the maximum time they can keep you by law imprisoned if you are an undocumented migrant.”
His mother does not know that he is an undocumented migrant and homeless.
“I cannot tell her the truth about my situation because she is ill and her situation could worsen if she knew,” he said. “She would get upset.”
Adam admits that he does not know who to turn to if he needs medical attention. He has now found temporary shelter.
“I’m afraid of the police because they can send me back to prison [immigration detention center] and deport me,” he said. “Why should I be put again in prison? The police never hit me, but they hit my brain with stress and made me feel very, very tired.”
Adam, who said that his ordeal had made him feel tired, states that he does not drink alcohol or use drugs.
“I’m [mentally] tired since I have constant stress about my situation,” he said. “I have no idea what will happen to me, but one matter is for certain: I cannot return to Ingushetia.”
If Adam could write a letter to Finland, he said he would say: “Don’t be a racist with Rusian citizens.”
“I think some people hate me because I’m from Russia,” he added.”Migri gave me negatives because they said to me that we need proof but how can I show them any proof if I ran away from my country.”
Adam has lost hope about his future.
“I am not confident of getting a residence permit, but I lost hope, everything, and I’m still here because I cannot go back,” he added.
Adam admits that he “wastes his time” in Finland because he cannot go back to Ingushetia is not an option.
He said that the only matter that helped him survive in Finland was because he was born a strong person.
“I still survive because I have no choice, and I cannot go back,” he said. “The only thing I now need most is my place.”
He said that he had suffered from sleeping disorders for 5-6 years when he left Ingushetia.
“I sleep as if I were in a war,” he continued. “I think a lot of my problems and cannot sleep like normal people. I think of my mother, about everything in my life. I’m sometimes nervous, and I get angry. I get very angry sometimes.”
Occasionally, Adam feels that he is only a step away from becoming crazy.
“[Becoming crazy] is like when somebody talks to you and your mind is roaming somewhere else,” he concluded. “Becoming crazy, I think, is when you lose your mind and explode.”
* Adam is a pseudonym to protect his identity.