Some asylum seekers in the northern Finnish city of Kemi claim that they do not leave their homes after eight pm on Saturdays because it’s too dangerous. One asylum seeker, who got a residence permit, said that this was advice that he received from the Red Cross.
“There are many drunks on Saturday night, and this could lead to problems,” the former asylum seeker of Kemi, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Migrant Tales. “We still get a lot of mean looks from strangers [in the city] and sometimes they give us the finger as they drive past in cars. I would say that 5%-10% of the inhabitants [of Kemi] don’t like us.”
Feelings of insecurity in Kemi was fueled by the 2016 shooting of an asylum seeker and by the Soldiers of Odin, who harass and broke another asylum seeker’s finger.
The city of Kemi is located in northern Finland near the Swedish border. Source: MTV.
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Virpi Pakisjärvi, the head of the Kemi asylum reception center, denied that the Red Cross gives instructions to asylum seekers about leaving their homes on Saturday evenings.
“If a person feels insecure then that’s the person’s right to feel that way,” she said. “We do not, however, give such instructions to our clients. Kemi is no different from any small town in Finland and people can move freely.”
Pakisjärvi said, however, that on last Independence Day the Red Cross recommended to asylum seekers that it was advisable to stay home since the Soldiers of Odin planned to march in the city.
One group that harasses asylum seekers in Kemi is the Soldiers of Odin, a white supremacist vigilante organization, which is no longer as active as before in the city.
Meanwhile, a young Iraqi asylum seeker that got shot with an air gun about a year ago said that he “suffers from mental problems” and feels “traumatized” by what happened. The man who shot the asylum seeker was forced to pay a fine of 1,000 euros to the victim.
“The person said he was drunk when he shot me and if he does it again he’ll go to prison,” he said. “I don’t care about the money because it’s the least I want,” said the asylum seeker. “It’s true that it isn’t a good idea to go outdoors on Saturday or even Friday nights [in Kemi].”