Déjà-vu Finland: Same problems persist at reception centers as in 2015

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Remember when 32,476 asylum seekers came to Finland in 2015? Remember how Finland patted itself on the back by stating it did a great job housing many people, mainly from Iraq and Afghanistan?

There are mixed results about Finland’s “great job” in housing so many asylum seekers in such a short time. Some reception centers did a good job, others were vandalized, while others did a terrible job.

From January to November 31, 2022, 45,267 Ukrainians arrived in Finland, according to the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). Their numbers are expected to rise in 2023 as the war continues and intensifies in that country.

Not only did asylum seekers face unprofessional treatment at reception centers, but many were targets of arson attacks. Source: Migrant Tales

Some of the biggest problems that emerged when Migrant Tales covered asylum reception centers throughout 2016 were the following: lack of qualified staff; management did little to resolve the problems of reception center residents; very few courses on life in Finland; bad food; too long lines to see the nurse, among others.

Déjà-vu: Some Ukrainians at the privately-owned company Luona’s Nihtisilta asylum reception center of Espoo are airing the same complaints. The very complaints are similar to what the company faced in 2016.

A person who works closely with refugees but spoke on condition of anonymity because her identity would compromise her work has been in close contact with Ukrainian refugees at reception centers like Nihtisilta.

“One reception center that has been at the center of complaints by Ukrainian asylum centers,” the source said, “Does Luona run the Nihtisilta reception center.”

According to the source, the staff shortage is one big source of complaints.

“There is no Ukrainian-speaking staff, there are too few staff and a high turnover,” the source continued. “Few, if any, courses are organized by Luona on life in Finland. Too many asylum seekers at the reception center feel that the staff does not care.”

Staffers and refugees use English and a translator to communicate.

The source said that Russian-speaking municipal social workers visit the Luona camp. According to the person, some of them treat the Ukrainian refugees as second-class persons.

“Some of them tell the Ukrainians. that they should not complain and can return to their country if they don’t like it here,” the source said. “This treatment makes people feel unwanted and only worsens their traumas and anxiety.”

The food is another big source of complaints at Nihtisilta.

“The food is bad, and children rarely eat what is served,” the source continued. “The food has too little protein, but a lot of fat and sugar.”

Even if the nurse’s office is open daily for eight hours, waiting may take a few hours due to the long lines.