The purpose of a humanitarian immigration policy is to provide protection for those who have been forced to leave their country of origin as a result of persecution or violent conflict. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), nearly 80 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes. Of these, 45.7 million were internally displaced persons in 2020. Only a fraction of refugees arrive in Europe or in Finland, as refu-gees are most often settled in countries across the border from the countries in conflict. In the future, events triggered by climate change, such as desertification and water shortages, are also expected to raise the number of refugees.
Finland has been hosting internationally protected persons – in other words, refugees – for some forty years. However, instead of humanitarian reasons, people have moved to Finland more often for reasons such as work, study or family.
Due to protracted international conflicts and wars, the number of asylum seekers in Finland and elsewhere in Europe increased in 2015, when 32,476 asylum seekers arrived in Finland. Since then, the number of asylum seekers has decreased, and in 2020, a total of 1,277 new asylum applications and 1,932 repeat applications were submitted in Finland.
Finland also receives resettled refugees, i.e. quota refugees. In 2021, Finland's refugee quota will be 1,050 persons. In 2020, most quota refugees and asylum seekers arrived in Finland from Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria and Congo.
Reception is based on international human rights and agreements
Most of the countries in the world, including Finland, are committed to complying with the 1951 UN Geneva Refugee Convention. The Convention includes the principle of nonrefoulement, which means that a person may not be returned to a country where they are threatened with persecution. Finland's refugee policy is in-fluenced by other international agreements and EU legislation. Many Finnish laws also include provisions concerning refugees.
By committing to hosting refugees, Finland and the host municipalities help to realise human rights and con-tribute to a diverse and open society.
Parliament decides on the size of the refugee quota in Finland
In Finland, Parliament decides on the size of Finland's refugee quota annually when the Budget is adopted. On the basis of a proposal from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Eco-nomic Affairs and Employment, and Ministry for Foreign Affairs prepare a proposal for the Government on the nationalities and countries of origin of persons selected under the refugee quota. The Government decides on the regional allocation of the quota.
Finland's refugee quota also includes persons in need of urgent resettlement, i.e. emergency cases. The Finnish Immigration Service is responsible for selecting the refugees needing resettlement.
Municipalities play a key role in hosting refugees
Quota refugees arrive directly in the municipalities where they have been allocated placement. Those who have arrived through the asylum procedure move to municipalities from reception centres after being granted a residence permit. Municipalities play a key role the hosting and integration of refugees. The agreements made on municipal placements make it easier for refugees to settle in municipalities. Integration also depends on the host municipality's services and the attitudes it has towards refugees.
To host refugees, the municipality will need to provide integration services and ensure that its other services are suitable for the new residents who have arrived as refugees. Ensuring that refugees have access to high-quality services and that their reception goes smoothly also require financial resources and expertise in refu-gee matters and support for integration in the municipality. Planning and monitoring the hosting of refugees as part of, for example, the municipality's integration programme in multidisciplinary co-operation will pro-mote the integration of refugee residents. The Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Envi-ronment support municipalities in planning and developing the hosting of refugees. The Government also re-imburses municipalities for the costs of hosting refugees.