KABUL: Finland and Afghanistan are working on a draft agreement on the future of Afghan asylum seekers in the North European country, a top official announced on Tuesday.
In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Permanent Secretary to Finland’s Ministry of Interior Päivi Nerg said her country was dealing with the mass immigration issue in two ways.
One way of resolving the problem was a joint Finland-EU strategy, she said. The two sides will meet on May 17 in Brussels on the future of asylum seekers.
A second way for Finland was take up the issue bilaterally with Afghan authorities, added Nerg, who is currently in Kabul to discuss the matter of asylum seekers with the Afghan government.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) containing the flow of illegal migrants was being drafted, she revealed, saying she had underlined the need for the voluntary return of refugees in her meeting with Afghan officials.
The visiting secretary said EU countries had been pondering over how they could provide financial support to the individuals who were ready to return to their country voluntarily.
When asked about the future of refugees and her government’s strategy for treating them, she said the cases of all 7,000 Afghan asylum seekers were being studied.
Finland understood situation in Afghanistan and the reason why these people had chosen to leave their country, Nerg said, hinting 3,000 of the asylum seekers might be allowed stay there.
Cases of the remaining 4,000 applicants are being investigated. She quotedthe Finnish president as directing government officials to help the individuals facing grave security in home countries.
But those who merely wanted to have more comfortable lives would not be given permission to stay in Finland, explained Nerg, expressing deep concerns over the recent humanitarian crisis in the EU region.
Some asylum seekers, including women and children, lost their lives due to border closures by some EU countries. She said EU member countries had been working to prevent such tragedies. -(Pajhwok)
THE PASHTUN TIMES