The Finnish Immigration Service states in a report (see page 4) that at the end of 2011 there were a total of 6,100 family reunification applications by Somalis living in the country. Even so, only 329 family reunifications took place on average annually between 1999 and 2010, according to the Refugee Advice Center.
No matter how one looks at the figures, there are very few family reunifications taking place in Finland among refugees.
Migrant Tales has reported on previous blog entries about the challenges that Somalis face if they want to be reunited with their families.
The Somalis are not a small community. They are the fourth-biggest foreign group (7,421) living in Finland in 2011 after the Estonians, Russians and Swedes, according to the Population Register Center. There were a total of 14,045 people who speak Somali as their mother tongue.
In many respects, the situation of the Somali community resembles the discrimination (without the obvious Jim Crow laws) that black people faced before the end of Civil Rights Movement in the United States in 1968. Prejudice, racism and outright hostility are some of the threats that some Somalis face in this country on a daily basis.
Contrary to USAmerican blacks, the Somalis come from a Muslim country that has been at civil war since the early 1990s.
The family reunification issue facing the Somali community is a ticking social time bomb that aims to undermine, not strengthen, its roots with this country.
Look at the plight of the Somali community in the following manner: You flee to Finland as a refugee, are granted asylum but the high price you’ll have to pay is living without your family indefinitely.
Even if a fifteen year old is considered an adult in Somalia, in Europe he or she is still a minor. What kind of country offers asylum to a minor but refuses him the right to live with his immediate family?
What happens if you live separated for ten years from your loved ones? How does that change you as a person and what scars does it leave on your family and children?
An article on Kouvolan Sanomat reports about the Somali family reunification problem and how some are getting organized to ask authorities to speed-up applications. The high amount of rejections has raised questions by the Somali community that tightened family reunification laws have been passed to hinder more Somalis moving to Finland, reports the Kouvola-based daily.
While the authorities will not admit it, the long application queues are intentional and offer only a short-term answer to an ever-growing social problem and tragedy, which is going to get worse.
Even if the authorities want to ensure that a person living in Finland can support his family, its wishful thinking that some refugee groups can make enough money to support their families any time soon.