The Secretary-General of the UN thanked the volunteers

Miikka Pirinen
Miikka Pirinen
Miikka Pirinen

Ban Ki-moon visited a reception centre maintained by the Finnish Red Cross and called the Finnish reception centre system a great example of efficiency.

The Red Cross reception centre in Auramo, Vantaa, received a special guest on 9 December when Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the UN, visited the centre during his visit to Finland. During his visit, Ban Ki-moon participated in a Finnish-language class for asylum seekers and met with the asylum seekers.
 
– The Finnish reception centre is a great example of efficiency. The asylum seekers are in a difficult situation because they have been forced to leave their home, and they have nothing. It’s important to give them hope and faith in a better future,” Ban Ki-moon said in the press conference he held during his visit to the reception centre.
 
He thanked Finland, the volunteers and the Finnish Red Cross for giving the asylum seekers a warm welcome.
 
– I have been deeply touched and inspired by the compassion with which the Finnish civil society has helped the refugees and migrants arriving here. The kindness and solidarity of thousands of citizens show how deeply tolerance and compassion for those who suffer runs in your country.”
 
According to Ban Ki-moon, successful integration of the asylum seekers into society requires time and resources, as well as the shared will to do so.
 
– We also need strong leadership in the fight against xenophobia and discrimination. We need open, honest, and constructive dialogue to stop polarisation and racism. The asylum seekers must be treated as persons with human dignity. I strongly condemn speech that inspires hostility.”
 

“The Red Cross does remarkable work”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, who participated in the same visit, thanked the Finnish Red Cross and the volunteers for the work they have done for the reception of the asylum seekers.
 
– The Finnish Red Cross has raised the number of the reception centres from six to a hundred during the autumn. That is remarkable.”
 
According to Guterres, the co-operation of all EU member states is needed to solve the refugee situation that is shaking the entire continent. According to him, it is important to make peace in the refugees’ countries of origin, and to ensure sufficient resources and humanitarian aid for both the refugees and the countries receiving them.
 
– It is important that Europe’s actions are unified. The current situation, where people cross the Balkans and end up in only a few countries, is not sustainable.”
 

“I want to thank the Secretary-General”

The residents of the reception centre were informed of the UN Secretary-General’s visit the day before.
 
– I think the first reaction was an asylum seeker yelling excitedly: ‘It’s good I had my hair cut yesterday’,” says the vice-director of the Auramo reception centre, Nelli Kasurinen.
 
The residents had ironed their best shirts in preparation for the visit. The afternoon air was thick with both excitement and the smell of aftershave.
 
Many asylum seekers got a selfie with the Secretary-General, and a couple of them even got to talk to him.
 
– I wanted to thank him for caring about our situation,” said Munther al-Assaf, an asylum seeker from Iraq.