In 2018, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) received 173 reports of threats against reception centre staff, double the number registered in 2017, despite the fact that thousands fewer people continue to live in these facilities. This has been attributed to both a lower reporting threshold and extreme frustration with the asylum process, national broadcaster Yle reported.
According to Yle, Finnish reception centre residents are increasingly prone to vent their frustrations by adopting aggressive behaviour toward the staff.
"Some of the reports include addressing staff with raised voices, hurling items at walls or issuing verbal threats", Olli Snellman, the head of Migri's reception centre service told Yle, calling this type of behaviour "unacceptable".
At present, there are still about 10,000 asylum applicants living in reception centres across Finland. Most of these people arrived in the country during 2015 and 2016. According to Snellman, the majority of these people have received at least one negative decision. Most of them tend to appeal the rulings and file new applications based on new grounds, including conversion to Christianity, which makes the return to their Muslim homelands a dangerous perspective.
According to Migri, the majority of asylum seekers hail from Iraq, a country that rejects deportees and only accepts voluntary returnees. This limits the authorities' options in dealing with these people. The end result is that reception centres are full of asylum seekers whose hopes of acceptance are bleak, but who nevertheless cannot be deported.
"Traditionally, the reception centre system has operated so that the process has a clear beginning and an end. Now not everyone has that end in sight. Their dreams have been dashed but they also cannot be returned to their home countries", Snellman explained.
Despite the rise in reported threats, he suggested it was difficult to say whether the atmosphere at reception centres has deteriorated, stressing that no physical harm to personnel has occurred so far.
Snellman explained that Migri had revised its guidelines at the beginning of 2018, which may have led to a lower threshold in reporting incidents.
The police said they have yet to detect any major changes in the security situation at reception centres. According to the police, calls from reception centres include such incidents as disputes among residents, accidents, self-harm or threats of self-harm and come "at a steady rate".
In 2018, Migri issued about 58,000 residence permits and granted 9,600 citizenships. By contrast, only 6,500 residence permit applications were denied.