The updated Finnish immigration department (MIGRI) review vowed to maintain existing procedures in place for processing asylum applications, stirring greater anger and discontent among Iraqi refugees.
Last year the government changed specific clauses under the Alien’s act Law which resulted in the reclassification of Iraq as a ‘safe’ country.
With the exception of Mosul and other areas under Islamic State (IS) control, Iraqis from southern provinces, should they face any threats, are at liberty to relocate elsewhere in the country.
MIGRI stated that to date, no Iraqi asylum seeker has been forcibly returned to Mosul - the site of latest military operations against IS launched by Iraqi forces and allied militias back in October last year.
Speaking to FRB, 30 year old Iraqi asylum seeker Issam D. described the current mood of the Iraqi community in Finland as dispirited. “The reassessment has been met with anger and revulsion. Many are asking, on what evidence can Finland claim Iraq is a ‘safe country’? Have they adopted the position of the Iraqi government, or that parroted by militia commanders” he said.
The reassessment draws a distinction between Iraqi asylum seekers that have escaped ‘conflict’ zones and those that can be expatriated now that their towns have been ‘liberated’. War zones include Mosul and Tel Afar, while Salah Al Din, Anbar and Diyala are coded as ‘liberated’ provinces. Southern Iraq and the Kurdish controlled north are said to be safe, and where displaced Iraqis at risk can be resettled. Although the review makes a note of recurrent suicide blasts in the capital, it is argued that the area itself is no combat zone.
The decision to permit residency or forcibly deport refugees from Iraq is premised on these divisions. Baghdad is the only exception. Applications put forward by those who fled the capital are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Those that have converted from Islam to Christianity are also provided with protection from the host government once the authenticity of their ‘conversion’ is established.
Issam and others from western parts of the country have expressed disbelief at what they have described as “a distortion of truth”.
“For months now, western provinces have been frozen in time, reduced to mounds of rubble and debris. Any word but ‘safe’ describes the situation In Iraq” said Issam.