Finland Amazed at How Many 'Refugee Children' Are in Fact Adults

Finland, which in recent years received a fair share of asylum seekers, is increasingly questioning the applicants' age. According to preliminary estimates, two thirds of asylum seekers posing as children are in fact adults.

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When Finnish migration authorities are unsure about the applicant's age, specific tests are carried out. Last year, medical tests to determine the biological age of asylum seekers were held four times more often than in 2015, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported.

A total of 630 such tests were conducted in 2016, of which in two thirds of the cases conclusive evidence was found that applicant was in fact an adult. According to preliminary data from the Finnish Migration Board (Migri) more than 400 of last year's applicants posing as teenagers were fact adults. The percentage of investigated asylum seekers who were found to be adults, although stated otherwise, has thus risen compared with previous years.

Over the past two years, the Finnish Migration Board addressed about 3,500 applications from juvenile applicants, who arrived in Finland without their parents. Migri is reportedly still working on decisions for around 400 children and adolescents. Although a minor's application is always processed as urgent, Migri's consideration time for reaching a decision has spiked to an average of ten months.

The majority of adolescent asylum seekers who were granted asylum in Finland in 2016 were from Afghanistan (74 percent), Iraq (11 percent) and Somalia (6 percent).

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Incidentally, last year also saw the number of forcible returns from Finland double in comparison with the year before. In 2016, 6,657 people were returned from Finland, of which 1,671 people received an assisted return, meaning an escorted flight to their home country. According to the police board, the increase is due to the larger number of asylum seekers in 2016 and the larger number of rejected asylum applications. Additionally, there are at least 164 asylum seekers in Finland, who lack permission to be in the country and are pending for return.

In 2016, Finland also saw a significant landmark in demographic trends, when the number of births plunged below the number of deaths for the first time in 76 years and reached its lowest point in Finland's history as an independent nation. Since 1900, such adverse demographic trends have only occurred during the Finnish Civil War (1917-1918) and the Winter War (1939-1940).

Nevertheless, the country's population kept rising due to migration. In 2016, 32,376 people moved to Finland from abroad.


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