Development of legislation contributes to preparedness for mass influx of migrants
The Ministry of the Interior launched a project on 31 August to prepare legislative amendments that will contribute to planning for a possible mass influx of migrants. The need for change has been identified in the development work that the authorities have been carrying out since 2015 to improve their preparedness for large numbers of asylum seekers.
The aim of the project is to make the reception act more explicit by clarifying the coordination of national and regional preparedness. The Finnish Immigration Service, operating under the Ministry of the Interior, is responsible for the reception system for asylum seekers, which serves as the basis for managing a mass influx of migrants. In such an event, the Finnish Immigration Service has the lead in operational responsibility in this respect. Therefore, provisions on its coordinating role and tasks should be laid down in an act too.
The Act on the Treatment of Detained Aliens and on Detention Units would be amended in such a way that, in the event of a mass influx of migrants, persons who are not in a public-service employment relationship could also be temporarily employed for guidance and supervision tasks in detention units. In this way, the detention capacity could also be increased more quickly if there is a need for it in the event of a mass influx of migrants.
In addition, the project will prepare provisions on enlisting support from the European Asylum Support Office (EASO). In the event of a mass influx of migrants, the Asylum Support Office could be asked to send support teams consisting of officials from other EU countries to Finland. Provisions on the administrative implementation of the procedure should be laid down in an act. The need to lay down the provisions stems from a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council.
The project will begin on 31 August 2020 and end on 30 June 2021. The government proposal is due to be submitted to Parliament in spring 2021.
Finland has improved its preparedness in recent years
A mass influx of migrants is a situation in which reception centres for asylum seekers, including additional accommodation, are reaching maximum capacity and there is a constant influx of new migrants, with more arriving than leaving the country. Such a situation may arise gradually or abruptly, because of the massive displacement of people from a country towards Finland, for example.
At the moment, there is no expectation of a similar situation in the near future as that which occurred in 2015. Since 2018, the number of asylum seekers arriving in Finland has been smaller than before 2015, and about 800 first asylum applications have been submitted this year. However, different crises and, for example, the effects of climate change on living conditions increase migration. The fluctuations in migration flows along different routes are closely monitored, and Finland maintains an up-to-date picture of the situation both nationally and as part of the European Union.
In 2015, more than 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in Finland, which was more than ten times the number in previous years. The large number of applicants was a challenge for the Finnish asylum system and placed the authorities in a new situation. Since then, measures have been taken to promote national and regional preparedness planning and to develop the authorities' competence, risk assessment and mutual cooperation. The Finnish Immigration Service has updated its preparedness plan and supported regional preparedness in cooperation with regional authorities.
The Migration Department of the Ministry of the Interior directs and coordinates preparations for a mass influx of migrants and for adapting to the situation in question. One of the objectives of the joint strategy for the Ministry of the Interior’s administrative branch is that immigration is well managed and socially sustainable.
Jorma Kantola, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 488 215, [email protected]