Finnish minister: EU treatment of refugees is ‘shameful’

Finland’s Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (the Greens) has described the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in the European Union as being “rather shameful from the viewpoint of our common values”.

Her comments were motivated by the situation in Greece, where a large number of unaccompanied minors are living in refugee camps.

Late last year, Greece’s migration minister Michalis Chrisochoidis sent a letter to his EU counterparts asking them to help share the burden of 4,000 unaccompanied minor refugees on Greek islands, but just one responded.

“One member state responded. It’s not a matter of rules or solidarity, it’s a matter of civilisation,” he told a European Parliament session on 6 November 2019.

According to Ohisalo, her ministry has reviewed the situation and stepped up preparations to bring some of the children to Finland.

Although the interior minister did not mention specific numbers, she referred to the principle of shared responsibility and highlighted possible future scenarios.

“Also, Finland is a country with a long external border. If we would find ourselves in a similar situation, I hope that we would receive help,” she said.

But her hopes for quick actions caused some confusion and even irritation inside the five-party government as measures to assist Greece had not been previously discussed, at least not in detail.

At the same time, Finland has adopted harsher immigration policy. In 2019, deportations saw a dramatic increase of almost 80% for persons holding a residence permit. (Pekka Vänttinen |

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