Share & Connect
Finland is an attractive country for asylum seekers and refugees because of its reputed human rights records and its wealth, which is similar to other northern European countries such as Norway and Sweden. While most of the asylum seekers in Portugal are transferred due to Dublin II regulations, it’s not as attractive to asylum seekers in the current economic situation. Dublin II regulation is a signed regulation among Schengen agreement countries to identify as quickly as possible the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application, and to prevent abuse of asylum procedures.
Schengen space includes all European Union countries (excluding the UK and Ireland), Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The main article in the Schengen agreement is to abolish the borders between the signed countries and strengthen the outer borders with nonmember countries.
In Finland, the asylum seekers stay in a reception center managed by the Finnish Red Cross after submitting the asylum application in the police station or to the border police. Usually the police check the asylum seeker’s luggage, mobile phone, computer and wallet. The main reason for checking it is to try to find the route that was used by the asylum seeker to reach the country.
Most of the asylum seekers hide their passports and money and destroy any receipts that would show that they’ve bought anything from Schengen space. This is to avoid being deported to the first country that they passed into within the Schengen area according to Dublin II regulations.
All these attempts to hide information would not work if they had finger prints for visa applications or for any other reason within Schengen space. Also, Dublin II regulation states that if the applicant has a visa or residency permit from any Schengen country, that country would be responsible for his asylum application if he had not been there. In most of the Schengen countries’ embassies around the world, the applicant of tourism or business visa must do finger printing at the embassy itself. Also, in most European Airports, sometimes the immigration officer decides to take the fingerprints, especially if passengers are from countries that have a large number of refugees.
If the asylum seeker gives his passport to authorities in Finland, they will hold it while studying his asylum application. While in Portugal, the passport will remain with him.
While checking the bags the police would take the initial feedback from the asylum seeker and they will search in the Eurodac system, which is a European computer system created to double check if the asylum seeker applied in other Schengen and if he had committed any crime in Europe. The finger printing in Finland is fully computerized, while in Portugal they still use ink fingerprinting for the application and ID preparation.
Also, the police count the money that might be with the asylum seeker so the Finnish Red Cross constants can count the reception allowance for every asylum seeker per month. This allowance is given to the asylum seeker to cover his food, transportation and other essential things for living.
In Finland the allowance is 10 euros per day, and they don’t give one penny to the asylum seeker, even for medication, before confirming that the money with him is accounted for. The payment is given monthly.
In Portugal they follow the same procedure, except for money and baggage, mobile, computer and mobile checking. The allowance is 150 euros per month with some support of food; also, they cover all medical expenses. The allowance is paid on the first Thursday of each month by the dedicated social assistance workers.
The reception center in Portugal is managed by the Conselho Português para os Refugiados (CPR), or Portuguese Refugee Council, which is a Non-government organization (NGO) that is exclusively NGO dedicated to the support of refugees and asylum-seekers in Portugal.
Some of the food that is given by CPR to the asylum seekers and refugees is either expired or about to expire in a few days; most of the food is donated either by the nearby supermarket to the CPR or some other Non-government organizations. When Toonari Post asked one of the members of the CPR social assistance program [her name is reserved] about the reason for providing expired food, the answer was that everyone is able to decide whether the food is suitable to consume or not. Nevertheless, some asylum seekers are not educated enough to read the expiration date on the food.
Another strange procedure in CPR is that they don’t give an independent room to any person without hassle. For example, on the eve of December 29, 2012, one vigilant employee switched off the internet from the main router without informing the person who was talking to his family online. When the resident asked him to keep it for personal reasons, the employee refused to follow his request. The resident decided to watch television in the living room to civilly protest the aggressive Vigilant. After some minutes, three policemen came to the CPR and spoke in Portuguese. When the resident asked them either to speak in English or to bring an interpreter they assaulted the resident using their hands and the police stick. They took him to the police station to continue to beat him for three hours, then returned him to the CPR to sleep in his room. The resident went to the hospital the next day to take the proper treatment and to make a report so he could press charges against the policemen and the original employee. Other employees tried to convince him to withdraw the case from the court and promised the independent room. He took the room but refused to withdraw the case.
The majority of the asylum seekers are, in both countries, coming from Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Macedonia and Iran. Some of them come from other countries. The political and the humanitarian are among the top reasons for applying for asylum while some others are coming for economic or family reasons.
This compression is done according to the personal experience of one Toonari Post writer who applied for asylum in Finland, then was transferred to Portugal due to Dublin II regulation.