Hurting yourself won’t help in getting an asylum

Group 5: Sonja Fogelholm, Ida Kukkapuro

For Afghans Finnish residence permit is not easy to get. Among the desperate destinies there are also happy stories.

Last year one third of the Afghan asylum seekers were declined in Finland. Altogether 115 were told to return back to their home country. In September three of them made a complaint to the administrative court about their decision and started a hunger strike in front of the Finnish Parliament.

by Balazs Gardi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

by Balazs Gardi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

As the men’s initiative got more attention, the Finnish immigrant service was criticised about their decision of not granting them with an asylum and was accused of relating to an outdated report made by the UN Refugee Agency when making the decision.

The Immigrant service defended that the UNHCR’s report wasn’t their only source. They also added that they can’t change their decision because someone is hurting themselves.

And after all 260 were allowed to stay in Finland.

Eight euros and no passport

Yasin Askari got a residency permit already in 2005 among 99 other Afghans. He had arrived in Finland one year earlier without any identity documents. He had only 8 euros in his pocket and a coat he had got from his friends.

‘I got the jacket from my friends when I left. They told me, it was cold in Finland,’ Askar explained in Kainuun Sanomat newspaper in 2010.

From the immigration police in Malmi, Helsinki, Askari was sent in Kajaani reception unit to wait.

‘By showing that it is very difficult to get an asylum in Finland, the country stems the flow of Afghan immigrants. If you get a residence permit immediately, you tell it to your cousins and brothers at once.’

New strike?

And as for the two Afghan men on hunger strike, according to Helsingin Sanomat they ended the strike after 71 days and decided to wait for the administrative court’s decision.

The possibility of a new hunger strike lingers in the air – if the court’s decision is negative.


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Travel from Afghanistan is a huge strain

Askari decided to leave his home country Afghanistan because he was tired of the constant war. By the time he was 20, Askari realized he would never be able to start his own company in Afghanistan since he didn’t have enough capital. He was constantly thinking, where he could move. At the age of 21, Askari left his home.

‘I wanted to stay somewhere nearby. Even though it would have been safe in Iran or Pakistan, you couldn’t get an asylum there’, Askar explains.

It costed thousands of euros to take the dangerous journey to Europe. Askari chose to move to Finland becouse his relatives who lived in Denmark and Germany suggested it. Askari lend money from his uncle, money that he kept paying back for years.

He knew the traveling would be risky. If he would have got caught in a wrong country in the European Union, he wouldn’t had been able to seek for asylum from another country because of the Dublin Agreement. Other huge risk was to get caught by the police.

‘If the group is discovered by the police, the smuggler tries to escape the scenery. Sometimes they even burn the people so that there wouldn’t be any clues left.’

Askari refuses to reveal the route until today. When he finally arrived in Helsinki, his smuggler disappeared right away and Askari was left wondering around, desperately searching for the police. He got help from an Afghan woman and found his way to the right police station.
Slowly his new Finnish life started to unfold.


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