Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The end of reception?

They're closing down the local reception centre for refugees and asylum seekers in my city, the city of Tampere, this year. The primary reason for the close-up seems to be the poor condition of the old industrial building (serious mold problems), the secondary reason the temporary statistical slowdown of new arrivals to Finland. The keyword is centralization: it is being planned that this country will do with just a few centres, scattered around the country, many of them "out of sight, out of mind" in the northern and eastern parts of the country. So the current clients will be transferred to Lapland, where they know no-one and from where it is very expensive to travel elsewhere. They will simply be stuck there, in the midst of harsh winter and darkness. This means that there will be less opportunities for asylum seekers to look for study places and work in the so-called growth centres, where the majority of immigrants otherwise live.

The city of Tampere is not willing to continue the maintenance of the reception centre in a new
setting, althought it has been asked to do so. There would be several empty buildings that could be easily renovated to cater the needs of the recently arrived, but the right-wing city administration is simply lacking political will. The well-educated engineers and doctors from Asian and African countries, arriving with a work permit, are warmly welcome and the local newspapers are jubilant about their quick accommodation to Finnish customs; those whose educational profile doesn't fit the needs of the high-tech society are simply thrown to faraway places to wait for the slow proceedings of the Foreigners' Office. In southern cities, there would be more temporary, blue-collar jobs that even those who cannot speak Finnish can take to make a part of their living. In the northern and eastern locations of high unemployment, there is very little else to do but wait.

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