Thousands of Red Cross volunteers have supported the asylum seekers arriving in Finland

Leena Koskela
Image: Leena Koskela

Over 20,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Finland in a short time. The Finnish Red Cross accommodates over 12,000 asylum seekers at the moment, and thousands of volunteers have helped them along.

More than 7,000 Finnish Red Cross volunteers have already participated in supporting the asylum seekers arriving in Finland. The volunteers have supported the personnel in starting the operations in the reception units, sorted and distributed clothes, and guided new arrivals. They have also organised various clubs and circles, such as language and homework clubs as well as sports, and helped asylum seekers accommodate to living in Finland.

The volunteers supporting the human aid purpose of the Red Cross also act as a link between the locality and the reception centre.

– The volunteers have an important mission to build bridges between the arrivals and the Finnish population. Doing this together with others is the best way to learn the language and cultural skills also in working life. In addition to the volunteers and organisations, the help of the whole society is needed to integrate the asylum seekers into society, says Kristiina Kumpula, the Secretary General of the Finnish Red Cross.

Two new units a day

In 2015, a record-setting number of 50,000 asylum seekers are expected to arrive in Finland. This requires new reception centres to be built in a tight schedule.

On average, the Finnish Red Cross has opened two new reception units per day during the last three weeks. That means 300 new accommodation spots per day. During the same period, an average of 520 asylum seekers have arrived in Finland daily.

– We are committed to opening as many new reception units as necessary in the future, as well, says Secretary General Kumpula.

The reception centres and emergency accommodation units are opened in co-operation with the authorities. The state is responsible for the expenses of the reception operations.

– The Finnish Red Cross is a competent long-term partner of the Finnish Immigration Service with the ability to react rapidly and open reception centres. At the moment, 70 out of our over 90 reception units are maintained by the Finnish Red Cross. The units of the Red Cross form the National basis of the reception operations, says Jorma Kuuluvainen, the director of the reception department of the Finnish Immigration Service.
 
– This preparedness has been built for a long time, which is why we have been able to open new units and mobilise personnel and volunteers in such a tight schedule. We are prepared to raise the accommodation capacity to 20,000 on short notice when necessary and on the authorities’ request, says Kristiina Kumpula.

At the moment, the Finnish Red Cross maintains approximately 75 percent of the accommodation capacity for the asylum seekers in Finland. The Finnish Red Cross maintains a total of 70 units with a total accommodation capacity of over 12,000.

The work will continue for a long time.

– Asylum seekers keep arriving. At the same time we focus on supporting the integration of the asylum seekers. The Red Cross volunteers have an important role in that. Our work is only beginning, Secretary General Kumpula points out.
 

You can support the work of the Red Cross by donating to the Disaster Relief Fund

  • Call the number 0600 12220 (€20.28 + local network charge)
  • Text the word “SPR” to the number 16499 (€15 per message)
  • Donate online at https://www.redcross.fi/donate
  • Donate to the account of the Finnish Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund FI06 2219 1800 0680 00
  • Through MobilePay, using the number 040 135 88 00

    National Police Board fundraising permit 2020/2013/2937/11.10.2013.