The Finnish Border Guard is helping out authorities in Greece amid the latest surge of refugees trying to cross from Turkey to the EU.
The European Board and Coast Guard Frontex sent a request this week for help with a rapid border intervention operation which Finnish personnel will participate in.
There’s currently 14 Finnish personnel in Greece and one patrol boat, but Finland has 30 officers designated to be part of the EU’s total rapid response staff of 1500 people.
Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) has been meeting EU colleagues in Brussels to discuss the migrant situation, and how the EU can help authorities in Greece.
“It is very important that the EU Member States work together to support Greece in its efforts to manage the external border and to deal with the difficult migration situation at the Greek-Turkish border” says Ohisalo.
“It is vital that at the same time while we protect our external borders, we also protect human rights, international law and so-on” she told reporters.
Writing on Twitter, Ohisalo said that Turkey had been encouraging refugees and migrants on its own territory to move towards the Greek border. She said the worries of innocent people have been exploited and turned into an international political situation. Ohisalo said the region is undergoing a humanitarian crisis.
Finland will help Greece by providing tent accommodation for 500 people including camping mattresses, blankets, tarpaulins and water tanks.
Political opposition to Finland helping refugees
Unsurprisingly, there has been political opposition to the government for helping the refugees.
Earlier this week Finns Party leaders Jussi Halla-aho and Riikka Puura called for the reintroduction of border controls, and dismissed suggestions that all EU countries should be sharing the task of helping with refugees who arrive in Greece.
“All member states must systematically and expeditiously refuse asylum applications from people coming from another member state” Purra told reporters.
Halla-aho said that Turkey was a safe destination for asylum seekers and that EU countries don’t have any reason to accept them.
The Finns Party is calling for increased border controls with Sweden to stop any migrants at the border and reject any application for asylum.