Ahead of the Malta summit on the migrant issue, Finnish officials warn of a dire shortage of places to accommodate asylum seekers and say that most applications will be turned down.
Interior Minister Petteri Orpo estimates that two thirds of asylum seekers come to Finland in hopes of a better standard of living.
Orpo said on Wednesday that he is concerned that the number asylum seekers could break up the Schengen Area. He says this is because various countries are increasingly making selfish decisions, and that this can be seen particularly in the eastern Balkans.
With winter closing in, Sweden has already announced that it can only offer tents to new arrivals. Finland too is working on plans to offer shelter in tents and containers.
Orpo: Hotspot in Sweden?
In Orpo’s view, a so-called hotspot processing centre should be set up as soon as possible in southern Sweden. Under an EU plan agreed in September, these centres are tasked with registering and fingerprinting new arrivals, and separating genuine refugees from other migrants.
Orpo’s comments come as the number of asylum seekers arriving in Finland registers a new uptick. In October 7058 asylum seekers arrived in Finland, mostly through Tornio. So far this year 27,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Finland.
Most of the recent arrivals have been from Afghanistan. In relation to its own size, Finland has received the fourth-largest number of asylum seekers in Europe.
Nerg: 10,000 beds needed
Also on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry’s highest-ranking civil servant, Permanent Secretary Päivi Nerg, estimated that 60-65 percent of recent asylum applications will be rejected. Interviewed on Yle Radio 1, she also said that Finland urgently needs 10,000 more accommodation berths for new arrivals.
On Wednesday Prime Minister Juha Sipilä takes part in a meeting of European and African leaders in Malta focusing on the migrant issue. Leaders from some 60 countries are taking place.
Löövi: Message aimed at would-be migrants
Meanwhile Kalle Löövi, the head of international aid operations at the Finnish Red Cross, told Yle that the Interior Ministry’s statements about Finland running of out lodging space are aimed at both other EU countries and at migrants planning to come here.
“For those who have freedom of choice, who are able to think about whether they should leave home or go somewhere else, this message will probably influence them. And this message can take effect amazingly quickly via social media.”