Immigrants Concentrated In Certain Parts Of The Capital Region

Immigrants concentrated in certain parts of the capital region

The Helsinki Times, October 1, 2009

'Concentrations of immigrants have begun to form gradually in the Helsinki Metropolitan area. For example, people from Muslim-majority countries are mostly concentrated in eastern Helsinki, three districts in Espoo and two or three places in Vantaa.

At the same time in some residential areas of East Helsinki Finnish families are moving away, exchanging their rented flats for owner-occupied ones or moving closer to their jobs. As rented flats become available, immigrants often move into them.

Helsingin Sanomat has collected data on population concentration from researchers and population statistics.

The current trend worries Professor of Urban and Regional Planning Kimmo Lapin- tie of Aalto University, who thinks that the Metropolitan Area will experience great changes as the number of immigrants rises.

Could similar immigrant neighbourhoods such as Stockholms Rinkeby and Tensta, where 80 per cent of inhabitants have a foreign background, form in Helsinki, Espoo or Vantaa? The subject is taboo even though a large proportion of immigrants live in the Metropolitan Area and more of them arrive all the time. A major change is ahead, Lapintie says.

According to Lapintie, immigrant concentration in the same areas could be prevented if problems and solutions were discussed openly. Muslims would like to have their own mosque in the neighbourhood, for example, and large families need bigger homes.

For many immigrants, concentrating in the same area means that they never learn Finnish, which in turn makes it more difficult for them to get work. Immigrant concentrations are also a concern for the immigrants themselves, says researcher Hanna Dhalmann of the Department of Geography at the University of Helsinki. For her doctoral dissertation, Dhalmann has interviewed over 20 Somalis, among other things. According to the researcher, Somali families said they hoped that their children would learn Finnish. They expressed concern that in some daycare centres there can be so many immigrant children that they are separated into their own group.'