In the face of a thousands of new undocumented migrants in Finland, permanent secretary of the interior ministry, Päivi Nerg, was quoted as saying Jyväskylä-based Keskisuomalainen that no emergency accommodation should be offered to these migrants because “it would send the wrong message.”
What kind of a message does Nerg want to send to the world about Finland when thousands of homeless undocumented migrants, which include the elderly and children, are forced to sleep on freezing streets or be victims of exploitation?
Does Finland have a plan?
Some estimates place the number of undocumented migrants in Finland at 300-400. Most of them are Roma from countries like Romania.
The government has estimated that 24% of all asylum seekers will get a positive decision this year.
Last year, 32,476 asylum seekers came to Finland. The government estimates that this year some 10,000 asylum seekers will arrive to the country.
If the permanent secretary wants to signal to the world that Finland is an unfriendly and inhumane country to asylum seeker that has little respect for human rights, Nerg will likely succeeded beyond her expectations.
The permanent secretary leaves these people’s fate to chance.
“Emergency accommodation gives them [asylum seekers] a totally wrong message,” she was quoted as saying. “I hope that our whole society messages to them that it’s much better if they find a way to go back home.”
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Nerg’s statement has the same sour taste as the one in May by the Finnish Immigration Service, which alleged that countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia are safe to return asylum seekers.
In light of such assessments, the foreign ministry discourages Finns from traveling to such countries because it considers them unsafe.
How do you become an undocumented or irregular migrant in Finland?
Since Finland doesn’t have a repatriation agreement with Iraq, technically a person who’s been refused asylum doesn’t have to return to his home country.
In the so-called better days, if an Iraqi asylum seeker refused to return to his or her home country after having his or her asylum application turned down, such a person was given a temporary residence permit.
A new law passed by the present government doesn’t permit such asylum seekers a permanent residence any longer. Instead of getting a temporary residence permit they now become automatically undocumented migrants.
Just because they are undocumented migrants doesn’t mean that Finland can forsake them completely. Technically they are protected by international agreements like the European Convention of Human Rights and Section 19 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to social security:
Those who cannot obtain the means necessary for a life of dignity have the right to receive indispensable subsistence and care. Everyone shall be guaranteed by an Act the right to basic subsistence in the event of unemployment, illness, and disability and during old age as well as at the birth of a child or the loss of a provider.
Even if undocumented migrants are supposed to be entitled the right to social security, it is totally another case if it happens in practice.