Finland to deport majority of 5,200 Afghan asylum-seekers

Published February 23rd, 2016 - 06:00 GMT
Asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Pakistan wait for permission on the Russian side of the border, near Kuoloyarvi to cross to the Salla border crossing of Finland, on January 23, 2016. (AFP/Jussi Nukari)
Asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Pakistan wait for permission on the Russian side of the border, near Kuoloyarvi to cross to the Salla border crossing of Finland, on January 23, 2016. (AFP/Jussi Nukari)

The Finnish Embassy in Kabul on Tuesday said Finland hoped to conclude an agreement with Afghanistan on the return of Afghan asylum seekers as soon as possible.

In a statement, the Embassy said Finnish Under-Secretary of State Pirkko Hamalainen was in Kabul on Monday and Tuesday (February 21-23) to discuss the Memorandum of Understanding between Afghanistan and Finland regarding the return of Afghans who are not granted asylum in Finland.

“Not everyone who comes to Finland is entitled to protection under the Refugee Convention,” the Embassy said in the statement.

Earlier this month, Finnish President Satin Niinisto said that "we must help those who are in distress or being persecuted.”

“At the moment, however, we cannot help those who are merely seeking a better life or feel that their circumstances and future are difficult in their home countries".

In 2015, over 32,000 asylum seekers entered Finland. Among them were many nationalities, including over 5,200 Afghans. The vast majority of asylum seekers will not receive permission to stay in Finland and they will be deported.

An unprecedented number of migrants have also cancelled their applications and returned to their countries of origin before their cases have been reviewed.

The Finnish embassy said people whose applications were refused must return to their country of habitual residence.

“Applications that appear likely to be refused will be given priority and fast-tracked. The negotiations with Afghanistan will continue in the spring.”

It said Finland welcomed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's assurance that Afghanistan has the responsibility to accept the return of its citizens if they have no legal right to remain in Europe. Finland hopes that an agreement on the returns will be concluded as soon as possible.


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