More than 300 people gathered in the Finnish capital of Helsinki on Thursday to demonstrate against Finland’s decision to change their immigration policies in the face of increasing numbers of refugees flowing to the Nordic state from war ravaged countries, including Iraq.
The Finnish Immigration Service controversially stated last May that the security situation in Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq had improved to such an extent that it will no longer be considering asylum applications from refugees originating in those countries.
Helsinki also began deporting refugees to countries deemed “safe”, despite groups such as Daesh and sectarian Shia militias operating in Iraq.
Addressing the crowd from a megaphone, one unnamed Iraqi demonstrator denounced the Finnish authorities and stated that, in his home country, Iraqis will either “be killed, or be killers”, adding that life in Iraq was impossible unless one worked for the militias.
According to Reuters, Finland’s Immigration Service has turned down 75 per cent of applications from Iraqi asylum seekers since the new guidelines were implemented.
This stands in stark contrast to figures published by the Finnish YLE magazine that showed that 85 per cent of all applications were approved before Finland changed its immigration and asylum policies.
The Arab Weekly quoted Iraq’s ambassador to Finland, Matheel Al-Sabti, as appealing to Helsinki to allow Iraqi refugees to stay, stating: “Iraq does not accept enforced and involuntary repatriation of Iraqis to Iraq…There are no refugee camps for these people to go to.”
Almost two thirds of all asylum seekers and refugees to Finland are from Iraq which has been suffering from internecine sectarian violence since it was invaded and occupied by US forces in 2003.