During its preparations, the Foreign Ministry interviewed asylum-seekers about their previous painful experience. According to Foreign Ministry personnel, the idea was to allow the interviewees to speak candidly about their own experience, both positive and negative. In the debate, which was broadcasted live on Facebook earlier this week, four anonymous asylum-seekers implored their fellow countrymen not to seek asylum, unless they absolutely have to. They stressed emphatically that the asylum process is protracted, whereas living abroad is not what it seems like from afar.
"The objective of the campaign is to reduce the number of unfounded asylum applications, not the number of asylum seekers in general. Indeed, there are people who have no other choice but to flee. However, there are also people who still have a choice and they need access to accurate information when they make their decision," Rim Mezian, communication planner at the Finnish Foreign Ministry, told Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet.
"Another point however is that it would do EU countries good to launch joint information campaigns, as there is not much sense in all countries running separate ones. Finland, too, has something to contribute," Mezian said.
Last year Finland's Foreign Ministry started spreading demotivating information abroad. In a 2015 campaign, information about 10,000 migrants who drowned or otherwise disappeared when crossing the Mediterranean Sea since 2014, as well as risks of human trafficking, sexual exploitation and separation of families, was circulated online. The story ended with a negative decision by the Finnish Migration Board and a warning that the asylum procedure is a lengthy process with an uncertain outcome.