There are at least between 700 to 1,100 asylum seekers staying in Finland despite having received a negative decision by the authorities, an estimate by the Association of Finnish Municipalities said.
The figure includes between 30 and 50 families with children.
The survey also found that municipalities do not always separate those who have received a negative decision into their own group, nor do they reliably track people who may be present in the records of several different municipalities or services.
Furthermore, some people with a negative asylum decision do not necessarily apply for services, even if it may be known that they are within the territory of a certain municipality.
The estimate is based on the results of a survey into social and healthcare services provided by municipalities to failed asylum seekers, but the association emphasised that there is considerable uncertainty as to the reliability of the figures and that further research is required.
“In their replies, the municipalities stated widely that the figures given are partly estimates”, Ellen Vogt of the Association of Finnish Municipalities told the news channel MTV. “Still, this is the first time that this phenomenon has been mapped out so extensively”.
The association’s questionnaire was sent to 166 of Finland’s 310 municipalities in February, and the results cover areas with more than three quarters of the country's population.
Earlier, a risk assessment by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) found that some 2 percent of rejected asylum seekers pose a security risk. The risk assessment was intended to pinpoint “individuals who have the potential to commit crimes in Finland”.
The risk assessment of rejected asylum seekers was commissioned by the government of Finland after the Turku stabbing in August 2017 that left two people dead and eight more injured. The culprit, who later received a life sentence for carrying out Finland's first-ever terrorist attack, Abderrahman Bouanane, had earlier received a negative asylum decision from the Finnish authorities.