UNHCR welcomes Finland’s offer to receive vulnerable asylum-seekers from the Mediterranean region

Press Statement from UNHCR Representation for Northern Europe

A young asylum-seeking girl from Afghanistan walks on a makeshift bridge inside what is known as the Olive Grove, an improvised camp adjacent to the Moria Reception and Identification centre on the Greek island of Lesvos. © UNHCR/Achilleas Zavallis

UNHCR’s Representation for Northern Europe welcomes Finland’s gesture of solidarity and offer to receive 175 vulnerable asylum-seekers from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Malta.

The priority will be to relocate unaccompanied and separated children from the alarmingly overcrowded and precarious conditions on the Greek Islands.

“Finland’s generous decision will not only provide much needed help for vulnerable children, women and men, currently suffering in desperate conditions, it will also send a strong message of solidarity to EU member states on EU’s external borders. We hope that Finland’s act of solidarity can inspire others to follow,” says Henrik M. Nordentoft, UNHCR’s Representative for Northern Europe.

Mediterranean arrivals into Europe have decreased significantly since 2015 but in the last year arrivals to Greece have risen and made the already overcrowded conditions worse. More than 36,000 asylum-seekers are now staying in reception centres, originally designed for 5,400 people. A third of the population are children, most below the age of twelve, and nearly 2,000 children without parents or relatives in Greece are at risk at island reception centres.

UNHCR has appealed to the Greek government to speed up the transfer of asylum-seekers to appropriate accommodation on the mainland. UNHCR has also sent appeals to EU and European states to act, including by relocating asylum-seekers, by allowing for family reunification and by continuing the work to establish an effective solidarity mechanism as part of a fair and better managed European asylum system. (link to HC statement).

See also: