Finland: Most ‘Migrant Crisis’ Arrivals Not Refugees, Are Economic Migrants

(R) Around 2000 migrants who arrived by train, walk near the border town of Kljuc Brdovecki, on October 24, 2015, to cross the Croatia-Slovenia border. Crowds of refugees and other migrants camp by roads in western Balkan countries in worsening autumn weather after Hungary sealed its borders with Serbia and …

The majority of people who travelled to Europe in 2015 at the height of the continent’s Migrant Crisis had made the journey seeking better material living standards and did not fit the criteria to be refugees, Finland’s Prime Minister has said.

Speaking during an interview with Finnish public broadcaster YLE at the weekend, Juha Sipilä asserted that the mass influx of immigrants seen in 2015 and 2016 following Angela Merkel’s suspension of EU Dublin rules has “caused the recent unrest in Europe”, highlighting protests in Germany’s Chemnitz over murders by migrants.

“What made the situation so difficult is that the majority of these people are on the move because of economic reasons – not because they are fleeing war or personal persecution,” he argued, prompting outrage from Finland’s left.

“It’s very problematic that we have a Prime Minister who makes racist violence by the far-right legitimate by remarking that it’s because of ‘uncontrolled immigration’,” said Left Alliance deputy chairman Veronika Honkasalo, blasting the Prime Minister for “providing justification for racism”.

Pro-open borders NGOs including Save the Children were among voices calling the claim false along with “immigration researcher” Erna Bodström, who argued that around half of asylum claims made in European Union (EU) nations during 2016 and 2017 were successful after taking into account negative decisions which were eventually overturned by appeal.

The Finnish Green League’s Emma Kari, meanwhile, demanded Sipilä take back his remarks on the migrant influx, writing on social media that she “hoped the Prime Minister gave false information about asylum seekers by accident”.

“Comments such as this incite hatred against vulnerable people and are consequently outright irresponsible when coming from the Prime Minister. That’s why it’s crucial that Sipilä corrects his statement,” Kari posted to Twitter.

Rather than recanting his statements, however, the Finnish leader penned a blog post saying he was justified in drawing attention to the large proportion of economic migrants amongst those drawn to Europe who are claiming to be refugees, stating that while “helping one’s neighbour” is a duty close to his heart, “the task of the asylum system” is to help the people in most need.

Claiming immigrant communities “enrich our culture” and that they constitute “an important part of Finland’s vitality and success”, the Centre Party politician said the nation “has a responsibility” to help refugees.

But “the fact is that the majority of those who arrived in 2015 and during the crisis did not meet the criteria for asylum in Finland”, he continued, noting: “According to the statistics of the Finnish Immigration Service, approximately one third of asylum seekers entering Finland for the period 2015-2017 received a positive asylum decision.

“Approximately 44 per cent of the asylum seekers who came to Europe received a positive decision. That is, most of the respondents did not have grounds for obtaining asylum in Europe,” he said.

“Amongst such a large number of people, there are certainly a variety of causes for departure. In addition to war and persecution, there is also the desire for better living conditions.

“The is understandable. But the role of the asylum system is to help people who are vulnerable to particular oppression and disadvantage,” wrote the Finnish politician, who in 2015 demanded the whole country mobilise to show “solidarity” to the arriving third world migrants.


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