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The project’s client work is focused on the day centre in Helsinki maintained by the HDI.

The Unprotected Project assists people with negative asylum decisions who are left in Finland to return home

A project has been launched in the Helsinki metropolitan area concerning people remaining in Finland after a negative asylum decision and cessation of reception centre services. The Unprotected Project arranges psychosocial support for such people, counseling, service guidance, day centre activities, and information about returning voluntarily to their home country. The aim is that there will not be a grouping of people in Finland who are devoid of permission to be in the country and who have no rights to information or services. The Unprotected Project is being carried out by the Helsinki Deaconess Institute (HDI) in cooperation with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri). The project runs from 1 July 2017 – 30 June 2018 and acts as a complement to the work of the authorities.

“With the Unprotected Project we want to disseminate realistic information on what it means to remain in Finland without a residence permit, without family and loved ones, and the sorts of consequences that can ensue. It is important to be able to discuss the different situations with people calmly and confidentially”, says Marja Pentikäinen, the HDI director of Diaconia and social responsibility. People left in Finland following a negative asylum decision will be motivated to move on to the next stage of life by providing them with the scope to tackle stress, worry and fears.

“If someone wants to return to their home country, voluntary return is an honourable and dignified way to do so. To arrange a successful return for returnees requires the right information, and a reinforced sense life management and agency on their part, says Mika Paasolainen, HDI director of International protection and integration.

In order for a person to make an informed decision to return home, the IOM will provide confidential multilingual and personalised counselling about return and repatriation. Returning is arranged in close cooperation with the returnee and the relevant parties. The IOM assists the returnee prior to traveling in acquiring any travel documents, at airports on the trip, and in relation to repatriation in the home country. At all stages of the return process, returnees will be provided with counselling and any vulnerabilities are taken into account in arranging the trip.

The project’s client work is focused on the day centre in Helsinki maintained by the HDI. Here, one can wash, do their laundry, rest and get psychosocial support. The project also carries out exploratory work to bring people belonging to the target group within the scope of the initiative.

The Unprotected Project is a continuation of a project run under a similar name, which conducted inquiries together with undocumented persons. The project’s final report stated that an especially vulnerable grouping of undocumented people has emerged in Finland. The HDI proposed a working model whereby day centre facilities and guidance services would be located at the same place.

“Being undocumented places a person in a marginal position where legal options become narrower, and with housing and income, for instance, leads to the growth of a black market for jobs and homes. Undocumented people are also especially susceptible to exploitation. When people are in a desperate situation, the risk of radicalisation and various sorts of problem behaviour increases,” says Mika Paasolainen.

The Finnish Immigration Service is taking part in the project by providing assistance for people to voluntarily return to their home countries following the cessation of reception centre services. The IOM Helsinki handles the practical arrangements for voluntary return under the mandate of the Immigration Service’s mandate.

The Unprotected Project is being funded by the EU’s Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).

Further information:

Marja Pentikäinen, director
Helsinki Deaconess Institute, Diaconia and social responsibility
Tel. 040 868 1558 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Mika Paasolainen, director of services
Helsinki Deaconess Institute, International protection and integration
Tel. 050 502 7659 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Laura Niemi, communications director
Helsinki Deaconess Institute
Tel. 050 373 8602 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Mari Helenius, chief inspector
Finnish Immigration Service
Tel. 0295 433 263 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Tobias van Treeck, project coordinator
International Organization for Migration
Tel. 09 684 11 533 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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