After fleeing bombs and beheadings, Iraqi asylum seekers must now also face discrimination upon arrival to Finland. State media reported that dozens of Finnish nationalists greeted the Iraqi contingent by hurling rocks and setting of fireworks. One man was even dressed like a Ku Klux Klan member.
While the protesters were not particularly large in number — only about three-dozen according to the New York Times — they are indicative of Finland’s hostile reception to refugees and asylum seekers. The incident took place in Lahti, a town in southern Finland. Meanwhile, a gas bomb was thrown at a reception center in Kouvola, which is also in southern Finland.
Refugees fleeing war torn countries or oppressive governments have received a mixed reception in Europe. While signs reading ‘Refugees Welcome’ and applauding crowds have greeted some, others have been met with police violence and the construction of impromptu walls.
The majority of refugees attempting to enter Europe are coming from Syria these days. Syria’s been at war for more than four and a half years and around four million Syrians have fled their homeland. Much like Syrians, Iraqis have been plagued by the rise of the Islamic State in the past more than a year. Additionally, a weak central government has failed to protect citizens as many join Syrians in trying to reach Europe by land or by sea. More than 2,800 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year while attempting to reach Europe.
After a photo of a young Syrian boy’s lifeless body on a Turkish beach went viral a few weeks ago, refugee policies around Europe began to shift. Germany announced it would take 800,000 refugees this year. Germany has also led the charge for Europe to take in more refugees and distribute them fairly throughout EU member nations. But Germany has faced opposition, mostly from eastern European countries.
The United States has also been criticized for not taking in enough Syrians. The U.S. receives the most refugees per annum in the world with 70,000. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that number will increase to 100,000 by 2017. There hasn’t been a clear indicator over how many of those will be from Syria.
The current crisis is the world’s worst since World War II. Aid workers have said the international community can do more to stop deaths at sea and provide safe harbor to those in need.
“I don’t think the numbers are overwhelming,” Jana Mason, Senior Advisor for External Affairs with the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), told ThinkProgress earlier this month. “It’s clearly manageable.”