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Finland Begins Closing Refugee Centers as Influx Winds Down

© AFP 2023 / PANU POHJOLA / LEHTIKUVAMigrants arrive at a refugee reception centre in Tornio, Finland
Migrants arrive at a refugee reception centre in Tornio, Finland - Sputnik International
Finland's Migration Board (Migri) has decided to shut down a total of 33 reception centers as the inflow of fresh migrants is slowly but gradually drying up. Additionally, fixed-term contracts with a further 10 centers won't be renewed.

According to Finland's Migration Board bulletin, dozens of refugee accommodations will also have their capacity considerably reduced.

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"As a result of the closures, agreement expirations and reductions, the accommodation capacity will decrease by a total of 7,232 places," Migri states in the bulletin.

Together with measures, announced at the beginning of the month, the closures will reduce the accommodation capacity for adult asylum seekers to roughly 20,700 places and for unaccompanied juvenile asylum seekers to roughly 1,700 places.

According to the Migration Board, the occupancy of its accommodation centers has recently dropped to 82 per cent.

Recently, Finland witnessed a marked decline in asylum-seekers, following a distinct toughening of the migration rules, as well as a bilateral Finnish-Russian agreement, reached by the presidents Sauli Niinistö and Vladimir Putin earlier this month.

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In March, Russia and Finland agreed to introduce temporary restrictions on Russian-Finnish border crossings north of the Arctic Circle in order to put a final stop to illegal migration via "the Arctic route."

This was the final blow for illegal migration, coming not long after the re-introduction of border controls with fellow Nordic countries at the turn of the year. The vast majority of the refugees, taken in by Finland last year (over 32,000 in total), arrived in the country via the Swedish border in the North, as well as by ferry from Germany.

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Last year, Finland opened a total of 180 refugee accommodations, following an unparalleled influx of migrants predominantly from the third world. However, their number rapidly shrank in light of severe criticism from local inhabitants, as well as from state organizations such as the police.

Finland's Minister of Justice Jari Lindström of the True Finns Party went so far as to call refugee homes "a security risk," whereas Interior Minister Petteri Orpo stressed the dire necessity of placing the asylum accommodations as near police quarters as possible, due to an upsurge in sex-related and violent crimes by refugees.

Earlier this year, Finland's president Sauli Niinistö said Europe would not be able to handle the unhinged inflow of immigrants any longer. He also stressed that many of those who come to Europe in fact have no need of immediate protection, and called them "adventurers, looking for a better life."

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