Thousands of Iraqi refugees in Finland are returning home to Iraq, saying they don’t like the cold weather and unfriendly locals and want to be with their families.
Finland officials say refugees have canceled more than 4,100 asylum applications, and the country will begin flying them back to Baghdad on charter flights next week, reported The Telegraph. Most of the migrants cited a desire to be with their families as the reason for the return journey, but others cited uncomfortable circumstances in Finland.
“Some say they don’t like the food here, it’s too cold or they don’t feel welcome in Finland,” a local travel agent told The Telegraph. “There are many reasons.”
Nearly 80 percent of the returnees are Iraqis, compared to a much smaller number of Syrians.
“Some say the conditions in Finland and the lengthy asylum process did not meet their expectations, or what they had been told by the people they paid for their travel,” a program officer for the International Organisation for Migration, told The Telegraph.
The Finnish government encourages asylum seekers to leave voluntarily by offering financial help and educating them on their option of leaving voluntarily. “The number of returnees is increasing steadily,” a senior official in the Finnish interior ministry told The Telegraph.
The number of asylum seekers in Finland rose dramatically last year, when applications increased from 3,600 in 2014 to 32,500 in 2015.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said the mass migration threatens Europe’s Western value system in a recent speech to parliament. “Europe, Finland, the western way of thinking and our values have all been challenged by it,” he said.
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