Asylum seekers ‘missing’ after crossing Russia border to Finland


Some 160 people who applied for asylum at Finland’s eastern border last year have since disappeared, amid a sudden surge of asylum seekers arriving via Russia, Finland’s immigration authority said.

Finland closed its eastern border with Russia late last year amidst a growing number of arrivals from countries including Syria and Somalia. It accused Moscow of funnelling migrants to the border, a claim the Kremlin has denied.

The immigration authority Migri said it got 1,323 asylum applications at the eastern border between August and December last year, about 900 of those in November and more than 300 in December.

Now 160 people are missing from reception centres, most with unknown whereabouts, Migri’s Director of the Asylum Unit, Antti Lehtinen told Reuters.

Eighteen people have turned up in other European countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, France, Germany and Switzerland, to refile an asylum application.

“It’s of course possible that of these 160 most of them have continued to another country, but they haven’t yet applied for asylum in that country,” Lehtinen said.

Every asylum seeker in Finland has their fingerprint taken to the Eurodac-system, Europe’s shared fingerprint database, Lehtinen added.

Under EU rules, the EU country where a migrant first applies for asylum is responsible for processing the application.



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