HELSINKI — The Finnish government says it has agreed to take in up to 175 asylum-seekers from camps in Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta “to alleviate the humanitarian situation” experienced by refugees in the Mediterranean members of the European Union.
The Finnish interior ministry said Saturday in a statement that the Nordic country of 5.5 million would wish to bring in primarily “vulnerable asylum-seekers” — children and single-parent families eligible for international protection from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan.
The ministry didn’t provide a schedulebut said asylum-seekers would be picked from the four nations “depending on where the situation is the most serious.”
“It is important that Finland, as the EU’s external border state (through its long border with Russia), is involved in finding solutions both to the acute situation (in the Mediterranean Sea) and how to create a sustainable European asylum system,” said Finnish Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo.
In the past few months Italy, which has been under a heavy burden from African refugees arriving across the Mediterranean Sea, has allowed charity ships to disembark rescued migrants at its ports on condition that other EU nations agree to take some of the asylum-seekers.
Several EU nations have done so, making good on pledges to share the migrant burden at a conference in Malta last year.