No asylum seekers crossed the Lapland border from Russia into Finland on December 23 and 24. The Lapland Border Guard reported no incoming asylum seekers at either its Raja-Joosepi or Salla border stations.
The Lapland Border Guard said the situation is exceptional because these were the first two so-called ’zero days’ since asylum seeker crossings into Finland began to pick up at the north-eastern border months ago.
Asylum seeker traffic began to increase at the Raja-Joosepi station in late September and October, with the same phenomenon starting in at the Salla station in November.
Norway closes border, visa-holders only
Numbers jumped significantly in late November, when Norway tightened its asylum rules and hastily closed its border to Russia to anyone without a visa. This caused many asylum seekers that were trying to cross from Russia into Norway to try their luck at Finland’s entry points.
Over 30,000 asylum seekers entered Norway in 2015, roughly the same number as in Finland. Some 5,000 of them have travelled the so-called Arctic Route via Murmansk to the Norwegian border.
The first asylum seekers from Syria discovered the Arctic Route this summer, and since then a wave of migrants from more than 20 countries have entered Europe from the north.
Eight border crossings with Russia
The Lapland border guard says over 633 asylum seekers have entered Finland from Russia at the Lapland crossing points this year, 25 of whom crossed the border in the last week. Finland has eight border crossing points with Russia, Raja-Joosepi and Salla account for the northernmost two.
The majority of asylum seekers crossing at the Lapland stations have been from Afghanistan, Nepal, Iraq, Iran and Syria. In all, they represent 26 countries.
The Lapland Border Guard headquarters says it is still too early to assess what the reason for the sudden lull in asylum seeker traffic might be.