Questions and answers about asylum seekers and reception centers

1. Why does the Red Cross aid asylum seekers?

The Finnish Red Cross supports the authorities in receiving asylum seekers and refugees by maintaining reception centres and promoting interaction between the newcomers and the original population.

The Red Cross operates similarly throughout Europe and the world. The operations are directed by the organisation’s most important principle: aiding people in need.

2. How do the asylum seekers and the locals interact?

Currently, asylum seekers also live in rental apartments, which means they interact with the locals daily. Children and young people go to school. The reception centres also organise various kinds of collaboration with organisations and other volunteers. The Red Cross volunteers are involved in activities such as the friend service, helping children with homework, or picking furniture.

3. How do the asylum seekers spend their days?

They study Finnish, go to work if they have gotten a job, go shopping, visit the library and spend time outdoors. They take care of their families.

4. Do the reception centres work on integration?

In the centres, asylum seekers are taught Finnish and social studies, and they receive guidance in everyday activities. For example, in the Mänttä reception centre, asylum seekers study language and culture five hours a week. The actual integration takes place only after receiving the decision on granting asylum.

5. What kind of feedback do the reception centres receive about the asylum seekers?

The feedback has been mostly positive. The lack of information is the greatest problem, particularly in the beginning. The situation usually stabilises quickly. Security is taken into account, and the aim is to prevent possible negative aspects.

6. How does the relationship between the locals and the inhabitants of the reception centres change over time?

With time, the locals and the inhabitants of the centres form contacts with each other. They notice that all people are the same.

For example, six years ago a reception centre was established in Kontiolahti, Northern Karelia. At first, people were against the centre. The Red Cross held information sessions for the locals, and gradually, the coexistence started to work. When the government stated the centre would be closed, the municipality was against the closing.

This is what often happens: People are against closing the centres and support their reopening. The Ruukki and Punkalaidun centres were reopened this summer, and the Kontiolahti centre will also be reopened.