‘Security concerns’: Finnish PM reneges on plan to host refugee family

© Leonhard Foeger
Finland’s Prime Minister Juha Sipila says he won’t be able to put up a family of refugees, despite pledging to do so earlier. He cited ‘security concerns’ as the reason to shelve the plan.

Sipila promised to open the doors of his second home located in northern Finland to asylum seekers in September, saying that everyone should "look in the mirror and ask how we can help" refugees.

However, he told Finnish YLE radio Sunday that he would have to put off the idea due to security concerns.

“I asked security experts to evaluate whether it would be safe for a family with children to move in. Due to the heavy publicity, the situation is such that it would not be reasonable right now,” he said.

It’s not clear what security issues the Finnish PM was referring to, but the local Iltalehti newspaper reported there were concerns that the arrival of asylum seekers at the house could precipitate anti-immigration protests there.

In all, Sipila has three houses: a government residence, another near the capital, Helsinki, and a house in his home town Kempele. The latter was the one he meant to offer to the refugees.

Over 2015, some 32,000 asylum seekers arrived in Finland – as compared with 3,600 in 2014.

This influx triggered outrage among Finns, with vigilante groups patrolling the streets to ‘protect’ locals.

Also, a few days ago, the Finnish government announced plans to deport about 20,000 refugees who had been denied asylum.

In 2015, over 1 million refugees came to Europe seeking asylum, and a vast majority of them arrived in Germany via Austria. The steady flow of migrants prompted the local authorities to react.

On Monday, Austria announced that plan to deport 50,000 asylum seekers, offering €500 to those who would leave voluntarily. Days earlier, the German labor minister wrote in an op-ed that the country’s authorities were going to cut benefits for those asylum seekers who refuse to integrate.