First group of Cyprus asylum seekers arrives in Finland

The government agreed earlier this year to take 175 asylum seekers - mostly unaccompanied children or single-parent families, from camps around the Mediterranean region.

File picture of Migri logo on glass door / Credit: Migri Twitter

The first group of asylum seekers from Cyprus has arrived in Finland.

Migri says on Monday afternoon that there are five single-parent families, with 16 people in total. They’re part of a larger group of 175 people which the Finnish government agreed to take, to ease pressure on refugee camps in a number of countries including Greece, Malta, Italy and Cyprus, and then process their asylum applications here as normal.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees UNHCR says that more than 11,000 Syrians have arrived in Cyprus since the start of conflict in their homeland in 2011, and so far around 7,500 have been granted asylum.

However the conditions in many camps around the Mediterranean region are far from ideal with overcrowding and lack of basic services, and it was against this backdrop that Finland agreed to take in a larger group to alleviate some of the pressures.

Although the arrival timetable was delayed by the coronavirus crisis during spring, the first group of mostly unaccompanied children arrived from camps in Greece earlier in July.

At that time they were given medical check-ups and put into isolation to make sure they didn’t have Covid-19 and then Migri had a plan to move them into reception centres where they can receive the specific support services they need.

Extra places had been arranged at reception centres in Espoo, Kotka, Oravais, Oulu and Sipoo.

Migri is receiving €12 million in support from a special EU fund to cover the costs of hosting the children while their applications are being processed.