Arrival of asylum seekers triggers violence in Finland

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-9-25 20:00:46

Some 40 local residents used firework launchers and threw stones at staff and refugees when a busload of refugees arrived at a newly installed housing center in southern Finland, police said Friday.

The riot broke out at the Hennala barracks, converted now into a center housing refugees, in Lahti north of Helsinki, late Thursday evening.

National broadcaster Yle showed pictures of attackers waving Finnish flags and camouflaged in white cloth and caps resembling the appearance of the US Ku-Klux Klan.

There were no serious injuries, but the staff and arrivals were shocked. The bus had carried many families with children. Police said fines would be given to the perpetrators.

Paivi Nerg, the top civil servant at the Ministry of the Interior, expressed concern over tensions between locals and arrivals in Finland. She noted that many housing centers have been established in areas with no significant foreign populations.

Known for its world ski events, Lahti, however, has profiled itself as an international business city and was known at a time as the "Chicago of Finland."

The Finnish political elites are sending mixed signals and are split on the refugee issue. Member of European Parliament Jussi Halla-aho told media on Thursday that asylum seekers should be put into a camp near the border in basic conditions and be given no government money.

The scene of Thursday's attack at the Hennala barracks carries a notorious legacy from the Finnish civil war of 1918. Hennala now has capacity to house 500 refugees.

Yle political analyst Pirjo Auvinen noted the number of arrivals in Finland is small in comparison with other European countries. She referred to the comment by Prime Minister Juha Sipila some days ago that the refugees are now a bigger problem than the country's economic crisis.

Posted in: Europe

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