Almost half of Finns oppose taking in rescued Mediterranean migrants

The government recently agreed to take in 13 migrants who were rescued at sea during the deadly crossing from North Africa to Europe.

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Gambian teenagers who crossed from Libya to Italy / Credit: UNICEF

Almost half of people in Finland – 47% – oppose taking in migrants who are rescued in the Mediterranean, according to a new poll in Rural Future newspaper.

The survey asked more than a thousand people what their views were on
accepting asylum seekers who had been rescued by ships as they tried to cross
the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to southern Europe.

Breaking the results down by political affiliation, most Finns Party and half of
Centre Party supporters reject the idea of taking in rescued migrants; voters from
the Greens, Swedish People’s Party and Left Alliance were most in favour of
welcoming rescued Mediterranean migrants; while SDP voters were slightly more
sympathetic to the idea than National Coalition Party supporters

According to the newspaper in general more than a third of people – 37% –
supported the initiative and 16% had no opinion for the issue.

The study also found that men were more skeptical than women about welcoming rescued asylum seekers; while younger and older people were more welcoming, and middle aged people less welcoming.

Finnish government agrees to take rescued migrants

This summer, the Finnish government agreed to take 13 people who were rescued at sea, and their claims for asylum will be process as normal.

The government stresses that the need for international protection will be assessed individually for each person.

Some of those people will come to Finland were rescued by the Sea Watch 3 vessel, which was denied access to port in Italy. The European Commission asked for countries to take some of the survivors.

The Finnish government says that during it’s EU Presidency, the aim is to promote current temporary arrangements for dealing with people rescued at sea, while seeking a more long term solution.

Deadly Mediterranean crossing

In recent years thousands of people have drowned making the crossing from
North Africa to Europe.

Finland’s Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) described the situation as
“critical” as she met her EU counterparts in Helsinki in July.

“We will look at ways of taking EU migration policy forward. In the Mediterranean,
we have to find solutions that are more robust and not ad hoc” said Ohisalo at the time.

“The situation needs our attention and we should act together […] we cannot allow
anyone to drown in the Mediterranean Sea any more” she said.

The minister has outlined some of the key solutions to the problem, including more cooperation between police and border agencies; as well as hammering out a unified returns policy.

“We have to find solutions that are more robust, arrangements that are not ad hoc
as they are right now. The situation needs our attention all the time and we should
act there together” said Ohisalo.