Finland to start repatriating Iraqi asylum seekers
All but four provinces in Iraq considered safe
INTERNATIONAL EDITION – FOREIGN
May 8, 2009
Finland is planning to start sending Iraqi asylum seekers back to their home country. According to the Finnish Immigration Service, the security situation in Iraq has improved significantly.
Last year 1,255 Iraqis sought asylum in Finland, which is more than from any other country. With very few exceptions, Finland has not expelled Iraqis.
Iraqis in exile have started going back home. The Finnish Immigration Service notes that acts of terror by the Iraqi al-Qaeda and other extremist groups can no longer be seen to pose a threat to the government, and that the capabilities of the countrys security forces are growing stronger all the time.
Under the new policy put in place by the Immigration Service, those from the south of Iraq and the capital Baghdad are no longer seen to be in need of special protection simply by virtue of their area of origin. Their asylum requests will be rejected, and they will be sent back to Iraq, unless they can demonstrate some other grounds for a residence permit.
The security situation of the autonomous Kurdish area in the north of Iraq has remained stable, and asylum seekers from there can also be sent back, under the new Finnish policy.
However, the situation in four provinces of Central Iraq, Nineve, Salah al-Din, Kirkuk, and Dijala remains unstable, preventing a secure return home for asylum seekers from those areas.
The Immigration Service is continuing to grant residence permits to asylum seekers from those areas, according to instructions from the UNHCR.
The Immigration Service plans to use a language analysis on asylum seekers claiming to be from the four provinces as a way to help determine if these provinces really are their place of origin.
So far this year nearly 700 asylum seekers have arrived in Finland from Iraq.