Finland says thousands of migrants are seeking to enter via Russia

While Finland’s forested border areas have seen freezing temperatures and deep snow during the winter months

By REUTERS
February 21, 2024
Migrants stand in a line in front of Finnish Border Guards at the international border crossing at Salla, northern Finland. — AFP/File

HELSINKI: Finland said on Tuesday that “thousands” of third-country migrants were waiting to cross the border onto its territory from Russia.

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Finland closed all crossings on its 1,340-kms border with Russia late last year amid a growing number of arrivals who lacked valid documents to enter the European Union. Helsinkiaccuses Moscow of funnelling migrants to the border, a claim the Kremlin has denied.

“We have information that thousands of people on the Russian side are waiting to get to Finland,” Interior Minister Mari Rantanen told a news conference, adding that this represented “a threat to society”.

Rantanen declined to say how Finnish authorities had obtained the information.

While Finland’s forested border areas have seen freezing temperatures and deep snow during the winter months, Rantanen said she believed more migrants may seek to cross illegally as spring arrives and temperatures gradually increase.

Rantanen said existing EU legislation did not offer solutions for handling situations like the one faced by Finland.

The Finnish border authority has said more than 1,300 asylum seekers from nations including Yemen, Somalia and Syria had entered Finland from Russia between August and December last year, 900 of them in November alone. In comparison, the number before last August had averaged just one person a day.

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