Finnish authorities have delayed until "early July" the transfer to the country of 25 minors from refugee camps in the Greek islands, the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) said Monday in a press relesase.
Sanna Marin's government decided on 27 Februrary to accept 175 vulnerable asylum seekers from the Mediterranean region, mainly from camps in Greece, Cyprus and Malta. The first relocation was originally scheduled for June, but according to Migri it "had to be postponed" due to unspecified "practical reasons."
The Finnish Immigration Service said the exact day of the first transfer is not yet known. In the meantime, suitable representatives must be found for all accompanied minors and all them must be interviewed and undergo a medical examination before they are relocated.
The immigration agency stressed that "not all the 175 will arrive in Finland at the same time" and "it is likely to take some months to complete the relocations."
"Greece, the European Commission and the European Asylum Support Office are working hard to get all unaccompanied minors moved from the Greek islands to the mainland and to prepare the children for relocation as soon as possible," explained Relocation Liaison Officer Monna Airiainen, from Migri.
Male over 14 years of age
The majority of the minors in the refugee camps on the Greek islands are over 14 years of age, and less than 10% of them are girls. "The age and gender distribution of the minors due to be relocated is very likely to also show in the groups arriving in Finland," Migri explained in the press release.
The unaccompanied minors will be housed in group homes or hybrid units designed especially for minors.
The planning of the relocations will take the coronavirus situation into consideration.
Finland is expecting to receive a hundred unaccompanied minors from Greek refugee camps. Some single parents with their children can also be relocated from Greece.
Cyprus and Malta
As far as Cyprus and Malta are concerned, the plan is to relocate both unaccompanied minors and single-parent families, a total of approximately 30 asylum seekers from Cyprus and approximately 26 from Malta. "The schedules will be decided later," Migri added.
According to the Government’s decision, the asylum seekers to be relocated to Finland must be originally from "especially dangerous countries" and likely to be in need of international protection.
Finland has shared those criteria with the countries from where asylum seekers will be transferred, and those countries make their proposals of individuals on that basis. Finland cannot pick the individuals, but it can check whether the proposed asylum seekers satisfy the criteria set out in the Government’s decision.
"All of the asylum seekers whom Finland receives from the Mediterranean region will have vulnerable status," Airiainen explains.
Migri also said the planning of the relocations will take the coronavirus situation into consideration. Before relocation, each asylum seeker will undergo a medical examination, which includes a test for Covid-19.
A second medical examination will be performed upon their arrival in Finland. While the pandemic is still ongoing, the examinations will focus particularly on coronavirus symptoms. Any symptomatic individuals will be retested in Finland.
The minors arriving in Finland will also be quarantined for 14 days before they can move into their new homes.