The number of people applying for asylum in Finland has fallen for the fourth year in a row.
It’s a further indication that while there are still plenty of asylum seekers in reception centres following the migrant crisis of 2015, asylum applications continue to slow down.
“In all, 4,548 asylum applications were submitted in Finland in 2018. Almost one half of these (2,139) were subsequent applications submitted by asylum seekers already in the reception system” according to a new report from the Ministry of Interior.
The ministry’s report also states that in 2018-2019 the number of people applying for asylum in Finland in was the lowest since the start of the decade, as officials don’t expect big changes for the rest of the year.
But despite the number of new applications, the Finnish asylum system is still considered to be overburdened by unresolved applications, even though their handling times keep on shrinking.
“We want to put the emphasis on the beginning of the asylum process, so when a person applies for asylum he or she will know that the process will be justice-proof and respecting human rights, and everybody’s issue will be dealt with” says Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green).
In 2015 and 2016 when Finland faced an unprecedented level of asylum seekers mostly from the Middle East – there were 32,500 in 2015 alone – Ohisalo says the system was under a lot of pressure, a holdover that continues to today.
“We still have people from those times waiting for their decisions. So actually nowadays we know when a person comes the process is quite smooth, the process is justice-proof, but when we go back to these applications there are still people waiting these quite many years, and this is a problem we are trying to fix all the time” she told News Now Finland in a recent interview.
More budget funds for asylum processing work
The Finnish Government has earmarked supplementary spending of €4.7 million for the Finnish Immigration Service Migri, to try and reduce waiting times and stop recent staff cuts.
The agency will get an extra €4.7 million for operating costs and an extra €1.1 million for ICT development.
Finland has been stressing the importance of common European solutions in dealing with migrants and asylum seekers, emphasizing a fair and sustainable sharing of responsibility, as well as more Nordic cooperation.
The Government would like to see a wider use of the European union quota refugee system, because it has proven to be more efficient and effective way of helping the most vulnerable refugees.
Finland has agreed to take 850 quota refugees in 2020.