Press release 32/2017
9 February 2017
According to a report commissioned by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, most messages sent by representatives of ethnic communities living in Finland to their former home countries offer a realistic image of Finland. However, potential asylum seekers in particular do not always believe this message. It may be difficult to shake their strong belief in an easier and better future in Europe. Merely the fact that a member of a diaspora community lives in Finland seems to be living proof of success and making it in life. This contradicts stories on negative aspects of life told by those in diaspora which people in the countries of origin do not always want to listen to.
”They ask if it’s possible to get work there [Finland]. I tell them I’ve lived in Finland for nearly 30 years and been unemployed for nearly 10 years. They don’t believe me. […]For them it’s a contradiction. They hear you but don’t believe what they are hearing.”
The study on communication and the thoughts of people from foreign cultures living in Finland on seeking asylum is based on in-depth interviews of 15 diaspora members. After the interview, further information was collected with an online form. A total of 76 persons from Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia filled in the form. Due to the low number of respondents, the result cannot be considered statistically reliable but it can give an indication of the content of the messages sent by the diasporas to their former home countries as well as information on the methods and ways of sending these messages. The report also brought up ideas on potential asylum seekers' false conceptions, motives and alternatives.
”People [in my former home country] misunderstand me because they have no facts. They only hear that this and that family moved to Finland. They have no possibility to ask […] they start guessing. When they have no idea they start making things up.”
The results show that the most popular ways for the diaspora and people in the country of origin to keep in touch are social media applications like Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp. The results indicate that people generally seek asylum because they feel insecure or lack prospects. According to the respondents one of the most important misunderstandings concerns the Finnish language. In the countries of origin people do not always understand how important and difficult it is to learn the language. There is also a lack of understanding concerning the prerequisites for seeking asylum or family reunification or risks involved in the trip.
”There are many among those departing who take the wrong routes. They have money and education. They would have the possibility to come in the context of work-based immigration [and not as asylum seekers]. Why not learn the basics of Finnish in the home country and then come to Finland. People pay huge amounts of money and risk their lives.”
The survey was conducted by Kantar TNS. It is part of the background work focusing on asylum seekers' communication with people in their countries of origin, initiated by the Department for Communications of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The purpose of the communication is to decrease baseless migration to Finland by providing factual information on Finland and Finnish asylum processes.
Quotes from Kantar TNS presentation.
Inquiries: Rim Mezian, Communications Coordinator, tel. +358 295 351 905.
The Foreign Ministry’s email addresses are in the format firstname.lastname@example.org