April 1, 2009
Immigration policy discussion is gaining speed inside EU. It has been said that harder attitude towards immigrants has guided peoples voting behaviour related e.g. to Lisbon Treaty, it is one topic while considering EU enlargement and today’s financial turmoil is heating discussion more.
One aspect of immigration policy discussed in Finland is integration of asylum seekers to Finnish society. There is lot of problems in this sector – not enough language courses, long administrative process before getting status, the cold environment (both social and climate), difficulties to get job etc. And to handle these problems there is never enough money.
Recently I was reading an interesting article (here but only Finnish) which proposed solution same time to first avoid many problems related to Finnish society and second increase the effectiveness of managing bigger amount of asylum seekers. The key idea in article was following:
In Finland the Ministry of Interior has estimated that one asylum seeker cost 57.000 € to state per year. One expert of development policy calculated that if we could help asylum seekers near their country of origin -e.g. neighbourhood regions – so with that sum we could help 200 people. If Finland nowadays takes 6.000 asylum seekers per year with this method and the same investment we could help over one million people.
In EU there has been plans to establish camps for illegal immigration just outside EU borders. From my point of view this solution is not so good than concentrate actions near countries of origin. People who have came long way to EU border have many times paid a fortune for their dangerous trip and false papers to traffickers and many times only one from family can go. If the help would be given near families, maybe villages could stay together, wait to return or start new life in environment which is so much as possible similar than place from where they had escaped.
During Balkan wars in 90s created a big refugee/IDP problem in region. Hundreds of thousands refugees/IDPs have not yet returned to their homes. Anyway situation in Balkans today represents a possibility to test about method described above.
Forced or free population changes or transfers took place mostly to nearby regions and most are still living in these destinations. The problems and solutions would be totally different if the destination had be e.g. Indonesia, Paraguay or Greenland. The main components to manage situation in Balkans could be effective housing programme backed with infrastructure investments and economical development programs. The same system could be applied also in future by EU while managing global challenge of asylum seekers.