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Minister of the Interior Ohisalo participates in European Commission's quota refugee forum – Finland's good practices on agenda

Ministry of the Interior
8.7.2021 14.35
Press release 88/2021

On Friday 9 July, the European Commission will hold a High-Level Forum on Resettlement & Refugee Protection to discuss the reception of quota refugees and ways to promote it. Finland will be represented by Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo.

The European Commission's objective is to increase the number of Member States where the resettlement of refugees, i.e. the reception of quota refugees, is an established practice. The United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR estimates that next year altogether 1.47 million refugees will be in need of resettlement.

Finland has received quota refugees since the 1970s, and has continued to do so even during the coronavirus pandemic. Globally, however, the pandemic has reduced the reception of quota refugees. Finland has been invited to report on its own best practices at the event.

“Despite COVID-19, we have been able to raise the refugee quota in accordance with the Government Programme. This is really important because the root causes of migration have not disappeared with coronavirus. Conflicts and the impacts of climate change, for example, are still forcing people to move away from the areas where they live. The quota refugee system has an important role in how we can do our part to help the world’s most vulnerable people,” Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo says.

“The pandemic has also had enormous socio-economic impacts. In practice, growing numbers of the world’s refugees are now in a more vulnerable position than before, as many people have lost their livelihoods and other sources of income,” she continues.

Finland has selected quota refugees through remote interviews

Under its refugee quota, Finland admits persons recognised as refugees by the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR. Quota refugees admitted to Finland are usually selected on missions attended not only by experts from the Finnish Immigration Service but also by employees of the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service and Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment or local governments. 

During the pandemic, quota refugees have been selected on the basis of interviews conducted remotely. Selection has also been based on UNHCR documents.

“Selection missions will start again when the situation allows this. However, I hope that Finland's experiences will serve as an encouraging example to other countries, indicating that quota refugees can be received flexibly and in alternative ways even in exceptional circumstances,” Minister Ohisalo says.

This year, Finland has also carried out a study on community sponsored integration of quota refugees where each quota refugee would be supported by a group of around five sponsors. According to a report published at the end of May, the community sponsorship model could complement the integration work carried out by the authorities and prevent exclusion. The European Commission and UNHCR encourage countries to engage in community sponsored integration.

Reception of quota refugees is an effective way to help 

The participants of the high-level discussion will include European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi from the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR. In addition to the EU Member States, participating countries will also include the United States and Canada, which are among the key countries in the reception of quota refugees.

The reception of quota refugees is one of the main priorities of Finland's immigration policy. The resettlement of quota refugees is an efficient and effective way of helping the most vulnerable refugees because their need for protection and other conditions for residence are assessed before they arrive in Finland. It is also a concrete way of showing international solidarity with countries hosting large refugee communities.

This year, Finland will receive 1,050 quota refugees, which is a record high number for our country. Together with the European Commission, Finland is also striving to root the practice of receiving quota refugees in as many Member States as possible.


Iikka Saunamäki, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 488 267, [email protected] 
Milja Henttonen, Special Adviser, tel. +358 50 599 3094, [email protected] (requests for interviews with Minister Ohisalo)

Maria Ohisalo