The reception of asylum seekers and refugees

Katja Lehto
Image: Katja Lehto

The Finnish Red Cross supports the authorities in receiving asylum seekers and refugees, and maintains several reception centres and branches in different parts of Finland.

We maintain the reception centres

The Finnish Red Cross establishes reception centres on the request of the Finnish Immigration Service. The state pays for the expenses of reception and is responsible for processing the applications for asylum. The Finnish Immigration Service also makes the decisions on establishing new reception centres and closing existing ones. The Red Cross maintains approximately half of the reception centres in Finland. 

Asylum seekers live in the reception centres while they wait for the decision on whether they will be granted asylum. Red Cross volunteers have an important role in the everyday lives of those living in the reception centres.

The volunteers organise various activities around Finland, such as cooking clubs, women’s groups and Finnish conversation clubs.

We meet the quota refugees at the airport

The Red Cross receives the quota refugees arriving in Finland at Helsinki-Vantaa airport. At the airport, the refugees are aided by Red Cross workers, volunteers trained for the task, and professional interpreters.

A quota refugee is a person who comes to Finland, usually directly from a refugee camp, as a part of the annual refugee quota defined by the Finnish parliament. Quota refugees are placed directly in municipalities.

In recent years, the municipalities have taken in few quota refugees. This is why many of the refugees who have already been granted residence have been forced to wait for years in the refugee camps to get to Finland. The Red Cross influences the municipalities and works to get them to accept more refugees.

Why do we aid asylum seekers and refugees?

The Red Cross aids people in the most vulnerable position across the globe, including refugees and asylum seekers. The basis of our operations is ensuring human rights and legal protection.


Jussi Partanen / Finnish Red Cross

Who is an undocumented person?

An undocumented person is someone who resides in a country without a legal right of residence. A newly undocumented person is someone who has stayed in a country after having their application for asylum rejected. Undocumented persons are often in a particularly vulnerable position.

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.