The temperature this week will hit +45°C in Iraq’s Diyala Province. It’s hot and dusty and economically depressed after a decade of near-constant conflict, and decades before that of ruinous sanctions imposed by the international community against Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Mohammed Mutib wanted badly to get away from Diyala, and made the move when Kurdish Peshmurga forces, he says, demolished his house.
But Finland’s not the place he wants to be. His dream is Canada, or England. And he resents his life in Helsinki.
“Finns don’t give asylum to Iraqis from areas that are dangerous like Diyala” says Mohammed. “Many Iraqis have been through this reception centre but [the Finnish government] made a deal to send them back […] I know for certain I won’t get asylum here”.
Mohammed had a strange route from Iraq to Finland. Via Turkey, by boat to Greece, on foot and by train through Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Germany to Sweden. He was one of the thousands of migrants who poured through Finland’s northern border with Sweden during 2015.
That first time around in Finland, his asylum request was denied. So he left the country and ended up in the notorious Jungle refugee camp in Calais, hoping to make it across the English Channel to the UK.
Authorities had other ideas. When the Jungle was cleared out, he found himself in the Netherlands, and arrested. Because he had his fingerprints taken originally in Finland, he was flown back north in handcuffs, to Helsinki.
“The worst decision of my life was to come here and give my fingerprints” he says.
Mohammed is not a fan of Finland. “I started in the north and made my way to Helsinki. In the street, people are being racist towards me […] Finland is a state of police, not a state of freedom […] it’s just like Russia, I’m surprised they’re in the EU!”
He’s resigned to not getting asylum here, but he still has other dreams.
“When I meet Migri and tell them my story, I know I won’t get asylum and that’s okay. My main goal is getting to England, even if it costs me my life”.