ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Finland has suspended the deportation of all Iraqis whose asylum requests have been rejected in a stalemate with the federal government of Iraq, which refuses to accept the forced return of its nationals, a local newspaper reported.
News that deportations of Iraqis are halted comes after last month’s decision by Finland to suspend deportations to Afghanistan due to the deterioration of the security situation in the country.
Finnish police have suspended all deportations of Iraqi asylum seekers who have received a negative response from the related authorities in Finland, Huvudstadsbladet, a Swedish-language newspaper in Finland, reported on Friday.
Documents show that the deportations of Iraqis have been suspended since the beginning of October.
Finnish police in 2018 so far have deported 150 Iraqi citizens, 128 of which were returned to Iraq, according to the newspaper. Nearly all these deportations were forced returns, meaning the person being deported does not voluntarily leave the country and are escorted by police back to their country of origin.
Fifteen years have passed since the fall of the authoritarian system in Iraq, yet, the oil-rich country continues to suffer from violence, terrorism, insecurity, and lack of basic services. The aforementioned reasons have pushed many Iraqis to immigrate to other parts of the world in hopes of a better life.
The federal government of Iraq has repeatedly refused to sign an agreement with Finland on forced returns of rejected asylum seekers.
“Iraq has said that it will not accept anyone who has not voluntarily returned. For this reason, we are not deporting Iraqi nationals for the time being,” said police inspector Ari Jokinen, quoted by Finland’s Yle television channel.
Last year, the government of Iraq declared they would oppose the forced returns of its nationals from Europe.
Jokinen stated that the rejected Iraqi asylum seekers, who were awaiting a forced return, would now “very likely” be freed from police custody.
They will lose the services that were provided at reception centers, however, as they become, in effect, undocumented immigrants, he added.
“They can still choose the alternative to return to Iraq voluntarily. Iraq will probably gladly take them back,” Jokinen said.
Editing by Nadia Riva