Finland adopts tougher asylum stance on Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia

Finland on Tuesday tightened its stance when considering asylum bids from Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, citing "improved" security in the three conflict-ridden countries.

The three countries accounted for the bulk of last year's record 32,500 asylum bids in the Nordic country, which saw a nine-fold increase on 2014.

Iraqi nationals alone accounted for about 60 per cent of the total recorded last year, the Finnish Immigration Service said, while it recorded 5,200 bids from Afghan nationals and almost 2,000 from Somalia.

Citing an updated assessment, the agency said "it is currently possible for asylum seekers to return to all areas in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia without the ongoing armed conflicts as such presenting a danger to them only because they are staying in the country."

As of Tuesday, Finland is also no longer issuing residency permits on the grounds of "humanitarian protection". This earlier applied when an asylum seeker was unable to return due to a poor security situation or environmental disaster, an agency statement said.

This means that the Finnish agency will focus more on "personal reasons" when considering asylum bids, a spokesperson told dpa.

Meanwhile, flows of migrants to Finland have slowed this year.

Iraq and Afghanistan each account for about 20 per cent of the cases this year in Finland. Iraqis comprise the largest group with 564 bids recorded from January 1 to May 16, shadowed by Afghans with 547 bids, the spokesperson added.

Different from last year was an increase in applications from Syrians who became the third largest group of asylum seekers with 195 applications, nudging Somalis into fourth place.

Finland registered about 3,600 asylum seekers in 2014.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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