They say the decision is unrelated to the crimes, but…..

Immigration authority to shutter Otanmäki reception centre

The Finnish Immigration Service said Wednesday that it plans to close down the Otanmäki asylum seeker reception centre in the Kajaani region in eastern Finland. Two weeks ago, police held two asylum seekers who were residents at the centre on suspicion of manslaughter over the death of a local man.

Otanmäessä Kajaanissa sijaitseva vastaanottokeskus.

Two suspects in a manslaughter and robbery case were residents of the Otanmäki reception centre in Kajaani. Image: Katja Oittinen / Yle

Finnish immigration authorities have announced plans to completely wind down operations at the Otanmäki asylum seeker reception centre in Kajaani, eastern Finland by the end of March 2017.

The agency said Wednesday that it had terminated the rental agreement for the facility, which currently accommodates 15 people.

Head of the agency’s reception centre unit for the region, Pekka Nuutinen said that Otanmäki is just one of several facilities it is closing because of a current oversupply of reception centres. The aim is to reduce the number of available berths by 2,000 by the end of March next year.

Officials: Otanmäki killing not the deciding factor

“We are conducting an overall review and planning for the longer term. Otanmäki has been under consideration for a long time. If you are asking how the tragic death affected the matter, then yes it was part of the overall picture under review, but it was not the deciding factor,” Nuutinen added.

In mid-September, police picked up two Iraqi men who were residents of the Otanmäki reception centre under suspicion of manslaughter in the robbery and death of a local man. They are also the main suspects in another case involving the robbery of another man in Kajaani city centre. The men are now facing charges of manslaughter, aggravated robbery, robbery and payment fraud.

However Nuutinen said that the agency had already planned a dramatic reduction in the number of reception centres, given the decline in number of asylum seekers entering the country.

“Starting in March there will be extra capacity if the number of arrivals continues this way. We won’t have any need for such a large number of places. It could be that one year from now there will be just 10,000 places left.”

“In Kajaani we’re in an awkward situation, because we are shutting down a good centre.  Good work has been done in Kajaani in a very challenging situation. This is a financially costly operation so we have to react with adjustments,” Nuutinen pointed out.

No surprise in Otanmäki

Director of the Otanmäki reception centre Pekka Mattila said the closure was not unexpected. The matter had already been discussed with staff on Wednesday but residents had not been told about the decision to close the facility.

“It was expected that this wouldn’t last forever,” Mattila said.

“We will now have to develop a winding down plan. We will know the exact date when the centre will be closed later on.”

Pekka Nuutinen of the Finnish Immigration service said that officials will consider relocation of the residents when the closure date approaches. Officials have reserved a six-month transition period for the process.

In Kajaani, the immigration service will also shutter a 21-berth underage asylum seeker facility managed by Hoivataito Ltd by next March. The city will be left with one reception centre managed by the municipal authority, where residents live in regular housing.

By the end of winter, the immigration service will have done away with 7,000 berths. Currently the authority provides accommodation for 23,000 asylum seekers.

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