Life Expectancy in FinlandThere is much to love about the country of Finland. It’s combined geography of scenic seaside towns and expansive forests, along with rich history and unique architecture, make it a naturally attractive travel spot. But it seems to offer even more to those who call it their home. Finland is consistently cited as a model for health and happiness, with studies consistently ranking it as one of the best places to live and heralding its’ social services as some of the finest in the world. There can be some benefit in looking at what this country is doing right, and how its’ successes might be applicable elsewhere.

10 facts about life expectancy in Finland.

  1. Finland led the World Happiness Report in 2018: The World Happiness Report ranks 156 countries on the happiness of their citizens based on collective surveys, and Finland has continually been in the top five, even taking the top spot in 2018.
  2. Finland has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates: This is one of Finland’s most notable successes and one that can be seen as a gauge to the health of the country and quality of life overall. Finland offers maternity packages to new mothers that include necessary supplements and even a bed for the child, along with free clinic visits and social services before and after the pregnancy.
  3. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the unexplained death of a seemingly healthy baby during sleep, is extremely rare in Finland: There were only six deaths from SIDS in Finland in 2015. Part of the credit for this goes to interventions such as advising the avoidance of parents sleeping in the same bed as their baby and, as mentioned above, even providing baby’s first bed to enable this. 
  4. The Finnish government negotiates the cost of medicines: A list of ten facts about life expectancy in Finland would be remiss without mentioning its’ most well-known success story, its healthcare. To anyone in the U.S., this particular aspect of Finnish healthcare may seem almost unimaginable, but in Finland, large pharmaceutical companies do not have the same pull as they do in the U.S.
  5. The average life expectancy is 81.4: To put this in perspective; its’ neighbor Russia’s life expectancy is a full decade lower, at 71.5.
  6. Finland has experienced a major increase in life expectancy for men: While women’s life expectancy has also continued to increase in the country, men have made the greatest jump in recent years. In the past three decades, the life expectancy for men increased by eight years and for women, by five and a half.
  7. Children receive free school meals: This critical but often overlooked element of grade school education is a major and necessary benefit to ensure every student can put their focus on learning. Save the Children has ranked Finland as the third-best country for children.
  8. Finland has made progress in driving down cardiovascular diseases: While alcohol-related illness and obesity remain major challenges for the country, the number of heart disease-related deaths has gone down, due in no small part to a reduction in tobacco use. From 2000 to 2014, the number of adults who use tobacco in Finland went down by a full 8 percent. In addition to bans on public smoking and regulating sales, Finland hopes to completely ban tobacco by 2040.
  9. Finland has a lower housing cost than all of its’ neighboring countries: Though some of the more densely populated areas of the country (such as Helsinki) can be more expensive, the country as whole houses its citizens more cheaply, which in turn drives down the cost of healthcare and everything else.
  10. Finland has the lowest wage inequality in the EU: Wage inequality is a detriment to workers in any place it exists. Workers in the highest financial bracket in Finland earn 2.7 times more than those in the lowest. Take Estonia for perspective on this, where the highest earners make more than five times those in the lowest bracket.

Mike Gates
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Line Breakdown
Over three billion people live on less than $2.50 per day, showing that poverty remains a top global issue. Every country has a poverty line, which is the level of personal or family income below which one is considered poor by government standards. While there are a handful of countries with extreme poverty, there are others that have maintained the poverty line within their country.

Poverty Rates

According to the Huffington Post, factoring poverty rates is a mixture of art and science. When coming up with a country’s poverty line, the measurement of wealth and distribution has to coincide with the cost of living rates or price purchase parity adjustments. In other words, someone who may be perceived as poor in the United States can be considered wealthy in another country. The global quantification of extreme poverty is categorized differently than middle- and upper-income countries.

Countries with the Highest Poverty Line

  • The Dominican Republic of Congo: Despite the most recent decrease in DRC’s poverty rate, 71 percent in 2005 to 64 percent in 2012, the DRC remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The United Nations has estimated that 2.3 million people living in the DRC are poor and living in refugee camps. Due to the detrimental political corruption, the people of DRC continue to suffer for minimal necessities. The nutritional statistics of DRC are extremely low and health conditions are severe. Stunting, wasting, immunization coverage, drinking water conditions and diseases are just a few examples of matters that need to be taken seriously to solve these conditions.
  • The Central African Republic: As of 2008, the poverty rate for the Central African Republic stood at 66.3 percent and not much has changed. Although this is a healthy decrease from 84.3 percent in 1992, a majority of the countries’ population lives on less than $1.90 per day. To many, the Central African Republic may appear to be the land of diamonds, but it remains one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world. With a low population count of five million people, most of them are living without food, sanitation and decent housing. Every year, the Central African Republic only brings in $750. The Central African Republic’s issues reside from civil conflict, diseases and lack of infrastructure for schools and jobs. With minimal annual income, jobs are scarce and in high demand.

Countries with the Lowest Poverty Line

  • Finland: With a low poverty rate of 5.5 percent, Finland has one of the lowest poverty lines in decades, although the risk of poverty for many residing in Finland is the highest it’s ever been. There’s a secret to Finland’s success story: employment, education and parenting take priority. In addition, Finland is committed to improving education and healthcare. It is generous with welfare and possesses a low infant mortality rate, good school test scores and an extremely low poverty rate. Finland is considered the second happiest country on earth, falling second to the United States.
  • The Czech Republic: About 9.7 percent of the Czech Republic’s population live below the poverty line. Of all the European Union member states, Czech has the lowest amount of people threatened by poverty. In comparison to the average rate of 17 percent for the eurozone, Czech is doing pretty well for itself. Czech’s high-income economy is primarily based on the revenue it receives from its auto industry. This still remains its largest single industry, accounting for 24 percent of Czech’s product manufacturing. Czech’s wealth is due to its successful trading system.

Poverty lines will continue to be a global issue until countries ally to reduce the gap in socioeconomic status. Without the rich, there would be no poor. Even within impoverished areas of the world, there are different levels of poverty and what one can afford. Unity and prioritizing citizen’s needs is a necessity to promote change in poverty lines.

 – Kayla Sellers 

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Finland
Today, Finland has a reputation for one of the lowest poverty rates in the world, and thousands of Finns live below the poverty level. These top 10 facts about poverty in Finland will help put into perspective the socio-economic issues Finland faces today.

Facts About Poverty in Finland

  1. Finland’s poverty rate is 5.8 percent, based on a 50 percent threshold of the average income from the OECD’s most recent report. In recent years, the at-risk-of-poverty percentage hit its peak in 2008 at 13.9 percent but dropped to 11.7 percent by 2015. Finland’s low poverty rate is right behind Denmark’s and not too far from the other Nordic countries.
  2. In 2016, the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported approximately 400,000 people — or 8 percent — of the Finnish population live underneath Finland’s minimum budget of 669 euros.
  3. Finland’s welfare system is based on the Nordic model, which emphasizes socio-economic equality. In turn, Finland strives to maintain a financial safety net for its citizens and reduce poverty. Politicians such as Bernie Sanders have used the Nordic model as an example to propose solutions to inequality in the U.S.
  4. Finns hold an unusually high amount of trust in each other, and tend to be more willing to pay high taxes needed for the nation’s welfare system. According to a recent Eurobarometer study, more than 80 percent of Finns say that they trust other Finns; this percentage is higher than in any other country in Europe.
  5. As of 2014, the child poverty rate in Finland was 3.6 percent. Child poverty tends to be lower in countries that spend a high percentage of their GDP on social programs, so Nordic countries including Finland possess some low poverty rates.
  6. The shortage of affordable housing ails low-income people and the homeless. One of the largest contributing factors to poverty in Finland is expensive housing costs, especially in urban areas. However, programs like Housing First help ensure that Finns have someplace to live, even at their lowest, most desperate moments. The program is funded by the government and has housed previously homeless Finns for extended periods of time.
  7. Low-income individuals and families have trouble accessing proper social and health services because of growing customer fees. Finland spends 8.6 percent of its GDP on healthcare, which is below the OECD average of 8.9 percent.
  8. In recent years, the number of unemployed immigrants has reached between 2 to 5 times more than that of the average Finn. As a result, more than 50 percent of immigrant households in Finland live in poverty. To combat immigrant unemployment rates, the European Investment Fund recently allotted 10 million euros for an experiment by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment that aims to provide skilled labor jobs for 2,500 unemployed immigrants.
  9. In January 2017, Finland became one of the first countries to start a universal basic income (UBI) experiment. Each month, they gave a stipend of approximately $680 to 2,000 unemployed people living below the poverty level. In theory, the experiment poses a potential solution to eliminating poverty within the country by providing enough money for each citizen to live frugally — regardless of social class. The experiment is set to end in December 2018, and the results of the experiment have not yet been released.
  10. In line with the Europe 2020 Strategy, Finland aims to lower the number of people living in poverty or social exclusion to 770,000 by 2020. According to Statistics Finland, currently 849,000 people live in poverty or social exclusion.

Poverty & Perseverance

Even with Finland’s success combatting poverty in comparison to other world powers, any trend of rising poverty or other negative living conditions within a nation is a continued concern. Finland will continue to experiment with other social programs for the financial security of its people, and hopefully the number of unemployed and impoverished will continue to decrease as a result of these efforts.

– Jessica Reyes
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Finland

In America, Finland (along with its fellow Scandinavian nations) is often portrayed as a utopia bereft of human suffering and a model for the rest of the world. The simple truth, however, is that economic troubles in Finland are real, and the nation has had its own set of struggles in the wake of the Great Recession.

The Finnish labor market has experienced three recessions since the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Business Insider reports that Finland suffered the worst economic contraction of any Eurozone nation during that same crisis. The country’s public debt doubled to more than 60 percent of its GDP by 2015.

According to Eurostat, as of August 2017, Finland’s unemployment rate stood at 8.7 percent. That number is not bad, but could be better. Today, 35 percent of Finland’s unemployed are long-term unemployed, representing a significant challenge for the nation as a whole.

However, the potential for these issues to cause poverty and hunger in Finland has been mitigated by the nation’s public welfare system. No one in Finland lives below the international poverty line due to a wide net of benefits covering both the young and the old. According to OECD data, the poverty rate ratio is only 0.04. Social spending at 30.8 percent of GDP and a well-funded, efficient public schooling system undoubtedly contribute to these successes. And there are other innovative ideas as well.

Those who pay close attention to American politics will know that 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently revealed that she considered running on a platform of universal basic income, a plan she scrapped because she could not make the numbers work. Earlier this year, the Finnish government started a test run for that very same idea.

Finland’s idea was to give 2,000 Finns ages 25 to 28 who had been unemployed for a year or more, or had less than six months of work experience, a monthly subsidy of €560 for two years, regardless of whether they found work.

However, after a government pushing austerity came to power, the trial size was cut to one-fifth of the original plan, making it too small to be scientifically useful, and regular social programs were scaled back, making it even more difficult to measure the program’s effects. The program may or may not help alleviate poverty and encourage economic growth, but it will be hard to know given the small sample size and lack of controls. Still, the presence of ideas like this show a healthy willingness to experiment by trial and error.

Earlier this year, the Finnish central bank affirmed that Finland finally seems to be emerging from the Great Recession. The bank forecasts that this year will see exports recover and GDP growth reach 1.3 percent, in part due to the Competitiveness Pact signed last year. Strong social programs, powered by economic activity inherent in free and open markets, will hopefully keep poverty and hunger in Finland at a historic low.

Chuck Hasenauer

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Finland

Finland has a population of about 5.5 million, and is seated next to Sweden and Norway. Human rights in Finland are ultimately made a priority by the country’s government, and this country is considered more progressive than most, although there are still a few areas that could be improved.

According to a report from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Nordic country strives to dedicate time and attention to minorities in the country, including the Roma, linguistic or religious minorities and other ethnic minorities. On the other hand, the report also states that residents who belong to multiple of these minority groups are typically “the most vulnerable to human rights violations.” Finland promotes openness in respect to human rights policy and works toward “effective empowerment of the civil society,” according to the same report.

Human rights in Finland are also supported by nongovernment organizations in the region. In addition, human rights defenders work with minority groups. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs states that, “the key message is to encourage and urge the Ministry’s entire staff to collaborate actively with human rights defenders.”

Finland prioritizes areas including women’s rights, the rights of persons with disabilities, the rights of sexual and gender minorities, the rights of indigenous peoples and economic, social and cultural rights, according to the report. Regarding the rights of sexual minorities, in March of this year, Finland became the 13th country in Europe to allow same-sex marriage, according to the Human Rights Watch.

While human rights in Finland are heavily prioritized, there are still areas in need of improvement.

The U.S. Department of the State reports that human rights problems in Finland include the failure of police to provide detainees with timely access to legal council, “questionable” donations and contributions to political campaigns and violence against women and members of the LGBT community.

The report also included information on issues surrounding the treatment of survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence. It stated that survivors seeking justice have encountered many obstacles with respect to their interactions with police and judicial officials. However, it also stated that police and government officials strongly encourage victims to report rapes through “various public awareness campaigns.”

While human rights in Finland have a few shortcomings, they are one of the more progressive nations in Europe, meaning that further progress is certainly possible.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in Finland
Finland is a country in Europe with a population of 5.5 million. The nation borders Sweden, Norway and Russia. Despite the nation’s small population, Finland is extremely impressive on the global scale. The nation is known for high quality education, equality and a national social welfare system. The poverty rate in Finland is also among the best in the world.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines poverty rate as “the ratio of the number of people (in a given age group) whose income falls below the poverty line; taken as half the median household income of the total population.” As of 2014, Finland’s total poverty rate of .068 is the fourth best in the world, trailing Denmark, the Czech Republic and Iceland. For people under the age of 17 in poverty, Finland does even better, ranking second in the world.

The poverty rate in Finland is not among the world’s best by accident. The nation’s economy is open and transparent. It has well-maintained laws and a very low tolerance for corruption.

The nation’s many successes does not mean that everything is perfect. The economy struggled in recent years, forcing the government to take measures to bring back economic growth and reduce public debt.

 

Maintaining a Low Poverty Rate in Finland

 

Fortunately, things are already starting to turn around. In 2015, the economy grew for the first time since 2011, and that growth continued in 2016. In January of this year, Finland began a new program designed to help the nation’s people and economy. The trial, which will last for two years, will pay 2,000 randomly-selected citizens unemployment benefits of 560 euros every month.

The experiment aims to limit bureaucracy, reduce poverty and increase employment. At the moment, we cannot know for sure how effective this program will be. Critics argue that the program may encourage laziness, since people will be receiving a paycheck without working. However, there is hope that it can accomplish its goals.

Looking forward, Finland must work hard to strengthen its economy, which will include lowering labor costs and increasing demand for its exports. The population of Finland is aging and the nation is experiencing a decrease in productivity in traditional industries. All of this threatens the nation’s economy.

Nevertheless, the poverty rate in Finland is something to be admired. The country has and will continue to face many challenges, economic and otherwise, but its unique actions may be what it needs to stay ahead of the curve.

Adam Braunstein

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Finland
Finland is rated among the top nations in the world for quality of life, financial equality and educational systems. As a welfare state it provides its citizens public services to protect against financial and social risks like accidents, disabilities, old age and unemployment. Thus, there are few causes of poverty in Finland.

The country also has one of the lowest poverty rates at approximately 0.04 percent of its 5.4 million citizens. However, the percentage of people considered at risk of poverty is on the rise.

In the late 1980s, Finland had an impressively low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, with 10.7 percent of the population considered at risk of poverty.

In the early 1990s, Finland suffered a severe recession that brought the unemployment rate to 18.5 percent. This subsequently dropped to 9.1 percent by the late 1990’s as the nation made a quick recovery.

The Finnish government made significant spending cuts for public services to cope with the recession. York University graduate scholar Juha Mikkonen wrote that increases in public services grew slowly alongside a slow wage trend since these cuts were made.

Numerous scholars argue this trend left more people at risk. Others argue these public services can be the net that saves those on a low income in the case that an accident, illness, or loss of income hits unexpectedly. These safeguards act to cushion the blow of the key causes of poverty in Finland.

 

Leading Causes of Poverty in Finland

 

The number of people at risk rose to 15.6 percent in the late 2000’s, and now hovers around 13 percent. This last spring, Finland’s Ministry of Finance announced that around 869,000 people were at risk.

What does it mean to be at risk of poverty? The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defines the poverty line separately for each nation, and is usually drawn at or less than 50 percent of the national median income.

The Finnish government presently uses the OECD’s defining parameters of those at risk of poverty. Those with an annual income of less than 60 percent of the national median income, which in Finland is $28,238.

In 2014, Statistics Finland reported the two age groups with the highest percentage of at risk individuals were those 18 to 24 years (at 29.7 percent) and 75 and older (at 22.2 percent).

Mikkonen noted that the causes of poverty for Finland’s youth may be their limited employment while in school and increased dependence on their families later in adulthood. If their family falls on hard times, they are put at extra risk.

Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health states that poverty must also be defined by how well a person can access resources necessary to their well-being, such as good housing, food, healthcare and education.

Social exclusion can limit resources as well as job accessibility. Social exclusion and poverty often originate from the same causes depending on how the poor are perceived.

Numerous scholars studied how different people perceive the causes of poverty in Finland, finding that people attribute three main groups of causes: a) one’s personal behavior, b) societal and economic factors and c) luck or fate.

In addition, different social groups of the poor, such as families with children, elderly, and immigrants, are often judged differently as to what caused their poverty and how deserving they are of aid.

What makes these studies important? How a community perceives the poor and poverty influences how poverty-targeted policies are shaped and implemented.

Mikko Niemelä, University of Turku professor of sociology, notes that numerous studies reveal Finns are more likely than other Scandinavians to point to individualistic causes such as poor money management or laziness.

Niemelä’s study compared perceptions of social service providers and the public. About half of all respondents blamed problems with the social security bureaucracy and a lack of skills or opportunities as primary causes. His results also showed that the public was more likely to blame individualistic reasons.

A transition in social security policies occurred in the late 1990’s. Prior to the recession, policies largely sought to provide universal protection against financial hardships. Mikkonen notes that there has since been a transition towards policies that specifically target poverty reduction. These policy shifts parallel a change in opinion that disfavors universal policies as not effective in safeguarding against poverty.

One particular policy shift has excited many people across Europe. Beginning January 1, 2017, the Finnish government embarked on an experimental program. Called the Basic Income Experiment, it is part of a transition in governing philosophy towards a “culture of experimentation.” According to the Prime Minister’s 2016 Action Plan, this “experimentation will aim at innovative solutions, improvements in services, the promotion of individual initiative and entrepreneurship, and the strengthening of regional and local decision-making and cooperation.”

The experiment includes 2,000 citizens between the ages of 25 and 58 considered at risk who will be given a flat monthly income of €560 for two years. This income can be spent by recipients in any way they choose and takes the place of social security payments.

The goal is to see how social security could be made simpler while incentivizing work and providing a level of flexibility to the aid provided.

Why the stir of excitement and controversy? The idea for a flat, unconditional income has been discussed for many years.

A recent poll by Dalia Research Partners and NEOPOLIS found that 64 percent of their ten thousand respondents across 28 European nations would vote in favor of an unconditional basic income for those in need.

And now we wait to see how such an experimental plan might fare on the national scale.

Diana Nightingale

Photo: Flickr

water quality in finland pollution
The water quality in Finland was not always known for being astonishingly clean as it is today.

Before Finland earned the name of a country with some of the cleanest tap water in the world, researchers discovered that the water supply was filled with cancer-causing materials. At this time, citizens referred to their tap water as “ugly water.”

Thanks to the panic and uproar that the discovery of this dirty water caused, Finland’s tap water is now ranked among the cleanest in the European Union.

 

Evaluating the Water Quality in Finland

 

Just as in most countries, however, drinking the natural water in Finland is certainly not in anyone’s best interest. With sheep, other forms of livestock, and pulp factories in the area, drinking from downstream is not recommended.

Although Finland’s drinking water is up to par, ecology reports demonstrate that water quality for aquatic life remains questionable.

This is mostly due to the large amounts of agricultural production in Finland, causing nutrient over-growth in lakes and rivers. It is the responsibility of farmers and other individuals to do their part in keeping pollutants out of Finland’s waterways.

Finland is also working to restore pathways for fish in order to help with the recent extinction of migratory fish stocks. These pathways surpass dams in a variety of 20 Finnish waterways.

Water quality in Finland is monitored by researchers in a laboratory that includes water from each individual local treatment plant.

Most of the tap water in Finland originates from Lake Päijänne, traveling 120 km to where the water is then treated in pools and safely dispersed into the homes of locals. The rest of the small portion of tap water recipients are receiving their water from a groundwater plant.

After years of fighting against impure and polluted waters, water quality in Finland ranks among the greatest in the world. That is, as long as individuals refrain from drinking downstream.

Noel Mcdavid

Photo: Flickr


The best way to educate students is something that most countries strive to discover. While most are still searching for the answers, Finland has seen dramatic progress in is education system within the recent years. The first realization came in 2000, when Finland’s school system was revealed to have the best readers in the world.

Then again in 2009, Finnish students ranked second in science, third in reading, and sixth in math, among a sample of about 500,000 students worldwide. Ever since these rankings were released, countries around the world have been trying to understand what it is that Finland does so well. Here are some of the unique traits of the Finnish education system:

  1. Delayed startChildren in Finland do not start their schooling until age seven. Before the start of their formal education, children spend their time in day care where they learn through more engaging forms such as play, singing, and games.
  2. Frequent breaksThe education system in Finland continues to highlight the importance of playtime throughout schooling. Children are required to spend 15 minutes outdoors every hour, no matter the weather conditions.
  3. Students do not take standardized testsContrary to many other countries, the Finnish emphasize their dislike of standardized testing. The Finnish education system discourages any standardized testing before the age of 16.
  4. Teaching is a well-respected professionBecoming a teacher is a rigorous and competitive program in Finland. All teachers must go through a five-year master’s program that is highly selective, only accepting a few hundred of the thousands of students that apply.
  5. Uniformity across the country.Finland’s education systems all have the same goals for their students. Additionally, since their educators come from rigorous programs, all schools have equally qualified teachers. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development conducted a survey which ranked the differences between the strongest and weakest students as the smallest in the world.

Finland’s education system is very different from those around the world, and yet it is arguably the most successful. The country stresses the importance of play and teaching students to learn not only for the sake of a test but to be more knowledgeable people. Additionally, the teachers themselves know how important their jobs are and therefore dedicate many years of their lives to learning how to be the best educators they can be. For these reasons and more, Finland’s education system is one of the best in the world.

Olivia Hayes

Photo: Flickr

Finland Refugees
In 2015, there were over a million migrants and refugees who sought a home in European countries to escape from war and poverty. Approximately 32,000 of them found refuge in Finland. Finland has bolstered enough of the refugee intake that the finance minister is now urging eastern EU countries to use their development funds to take responsibility for the growing refugee crisis and alleviate some of the pressure from western countries, such as Finland, who now face criticism as they increase deportations. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Finland:

  1. More than 400 juvenile applicants in 2016 were found to be adults after medical tests were conducted to determine their biological age. The added protections and quicker processing time given to child refugees have caused this problem of falsity across the globe.
  2. Of those juvenile applicants, 74 percent were from Afghanistan, 11 percent were from Iraq and six percent were from Somalia.
  3. Of the refugees in Finland, 6,657 were forcibly returned to their country of origin (deported) in 2016, and only about 25 percent received assistance in their return. That number doubled from 2015’s reports, which has been attributed as much to the increase in the application as the increase in scrutiny by the Finnish Migration Board.
  4. For the first time since the Finnish Civil War that ended in 1918, the birth rate in Finland is lower than the death rate. However, the influx of migrants has caused the total population to continue to grow. Between 2014 and 2015, as an example of the magnitude of migration, the number of refugees in Finland went from 3,600 to 32,500.
  5. The Finnish Migration Board has peaked at an average processing time of ten months for refugee applications.
  6. It is becoming increasingly common for refugees in Finland to voluntarily leave the country. Besides family obligations or a sense of alienation, one of the most common reasons seems to simply be that it’s too cold for people accustomed to living in the Middle East. Eighty percent of voluntary removals are Iraqis.
  7. One of the most popular towns to house refugees is Punkalaidun, mostly populated by Burmese, Syrians and Ethiopians. The town is a model for cultural integration and has been awarded for their “promotion of ethical relations.” The work that they provide to refugees is unique. They specialize in the production of funeral supplies such as coffins.
  8. The distance between North Africa’s shore and Southern Europe can be extremely dangerous, but it is the journey that many refugees make to reach Finland. In 2015, more than 2,600 people died trying to cross this stretch of the Mediterranean Sea.
  9. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has offered his own home in Kempele as a temporary home to 20 or so migrants.
  10. Since 1973, the Finnish Red Cross has been responsible for receiving quota refugees at the Helsinki Airport. Quota refugees forego reception centers because they’ve been approved for refugee status and sent to Finland by the U.N. Refugee Agency.

Finland is increasingly struggling to keep up with the flow of refugees from conflict areas across the world, most notably those in the Middle East. Refugees continue to risk their lives on the journey there, sometimes lying about their age or sacrificing months of processing time only to be turned away or to leave voluntarily because the conditions are so far from what they hoped. Even with this risk, the country is still a beacon for many hopeful people and a new home to a fortunate few.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr