Finland tightens controls at Swedish border

4:59 min

Finland will tighten control over its northern border in an effort to control the flow of refugees that come to the country by land through northern Sweden. Sunday alone saw three hundred asylum seekers arrive in the northern town of Torneå, which lies just over the Finnish border.

"The refugee situation in northern Finland is out of control," said interior minister Petteri Orpo according to Yle, Finland's national public-broadcasting company, and as quoted in the Finnish public broadcaster YLE.

Finland will implement a so-called "streamlined border control," carried out by the Finnish Border Guard, the police, and Finnish Customs. Their aim will be to find border crossers with no documents.

The Finnish authorities will also set up more reception centers where refugees can be registered. Those centers will open during the week.

Radio Sweden spoke to YLE reporter Johannes Tabermann, who has been reporting from the border town of Torneå. He said that over the past few days, some 300 refugees per day have crossed the border between Haparanda and Torneå.

Spread over a day, that number of refugees will not mean dramatic scenes, said Tabermann, but "300 refugees per day is a lot more than before."

"The reception centres are over-filled at the moment, they don't have space for more asylum seekers and they are begging the local politicians to arrange more spaces," he said.

The refugees he spoke to there, mostly from Iraq and Somalia, told him that they thought they had better chances to get asylum in Finland since the queues in Sweden are so long at the moment, due to the large amount of asylum seekers in Sweden.

Last year, 80,000 applied for asylum in Sweden, but there was only 3,600 in Finland. Why is there such a big difference between these neighbouring countries?Tabermann put that down partly to politics, partly tradition.

"Sweden has already for a long time taken a lot of refugees, and Finland has not. The fact that the right-wing polulistic and nationalistic True Finns party is in the news Finnish government is also playing a part. There is not a strong political will to change Finland politics about this matter," he said.

Because boat trips over the Baltic require identification, many refugees choose to reach Finland by bus or train through Sweden's northern border.