Immigration officials plan to slash by thousands the number of asylum seekers it lets into the country. Officials say the cuts will save millions of euros. However, Finland’s refugee quota will remain unchanged.
Last year, officials rushed to set up housing for a sudden influx of asylum seekers. Around 6,000 asylum seekers were allowed to enter Finland in 2009. Now the Finnish Immigration Service plans to slash that number to 4,000.
The Finnish Immigration Service has been responsible for the administration of the centres since the start of this year.
Reducing the number of applicants won’t affect the number of people who are granted asylum status in Finland. But immigration officials say accepting fewer asylum seekers will save millions. Last year, Finland spent around 130 million euros on refugee reception centres. Officials want to cut that number in half.
”When we cut capacity, we will get rid of those empty spaces that are costly. So expenditures will go down, but we aren’t talking about completely closing any of the centres,” says Jorma Kuulavainen, the reception director at the Finnish Immigration Service.
Meanwhile, over 500 people who have been granted residence permits still reside at refugee centres. Officials say they have nowhere else to go.
”This ties down 500 spots and is costly. It also slows down the process of integration, which isn’t good. We are trying to get municipalities to step up and help these people,” says Veikko Pyykkönen, a chief inspector at the Immigration Services.