Receiving refugees in Jyväskylä

Amongst the first counties, the City of Jyväskylä signed an agreement with T&E Centre (Employment and Economic Development Centre) for receiving quota refugees in 1990 when Finland started to place refugees also outside the capital. An agreement for receiving refugees consists of receiving 50 refugees with the members of their family each year. By a member of the family is meant a person that fulfils the conditions stated in the programme for reuniting the family, they could be spouses or unmarried children under the age of 18. Quota refugees will be assigned a place of residence where they are then entitled to all of the same public services than any other person in the county. A place of residence can also be granted to an asylum seeker who has received a favourable decision.

Jyväskylä has received in total about 1100 refugees of whom almost a third has moved away mostly to the capital and Turku or their near by regions. The main reasons for moving away have been family ties or the person’s own ethnic community and finding a place of employment or study elsewhere. Almost half of the refugees received by Jyväskylä are people from Iran of whom a large part have received a Finnish citizenship. The second largest group is Afghans.

The world situation can be seen directly in our work in a way that UN’s refugee organisation UNHCR offers to Finland the refugees leaving from the areas of crisis to be placed in third party countries. On the other hand, the crisis happening in the world can be seen as the refugees’ worries of the safety of their relatives and friends. People received in Finland’s quota of refugees have all received a refugee status from UNHCR and the Finnish authorities have accepted them here by interviewing them also personally. In addition, Finland receives a small group of emergency cases who are, for example, in need of urgent care.

Almost half of this year’s Finnish quota for 750 refugees is from Myanmar, previously known as Burma. They have lived in the refugee camp of Northern Thailand for a long time. Some of them will also come to Jyväskylä. The journey to choose refugees by the other delegation of authorities was to Turkey where mostly people coming from Iran were chosen. Last year, it was especially hard for the ministries to make a decision on quota refugees so part of the quota was not fulfilled. Because of this, Finland is receiving emergency cases more than usual that come, for example, from Congo, Liberia and Chechnya.

The role of City of Jyväskylä Immigrant Services is to provide psychosocial work for refugees during their first years and to familiarise them with the system of public services. We also make the integration plans to those falling outside the labour market like the young and the elderly. The refugees will remain the customer of Immigrant Services for three years before they will be transferred to the local services of social welfare that are aimed at everyone.

Kati Turtiainen
Director of City of Jyväskylä Immigrant Services

Käännös: Keski-Suomen tulkkikeskus