"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Finnish Hotel Converted into Asylum Reception Centre

A residents' association in Helsinki has complained because an old hotel was converted into a reception centre for asylum seekers rather than a facility to care for the elderly:

A local neighbourhood association in Helsinki’s Kallio district has filed a complaint over the refugee reception centre that was recently converted from a former hotel on Kaarlenkatu. It says the old hotel should have been used as an elder care facility for local residents.

The Fenno hotel closed down mid-June and by Midsummer the building, now renamed the Kaarlenkatu reception centre, opened to provide shelter to asylum seekers. Refugees are housed at the Kaarlenkatu centre while they wait for police and migration authorities to rule on their status.

“We deduct 49 percent of residents' subsistence subsidy for the room and board. Residents say they’re very pleased with the facility,” says Jari Nieminen, assistant director at the Kaarlenkatu centre.

The city of Helsinki has a ten-year lease the Fenno building, which can house up to 200 asylum seekers.

Not in My Backyard

While Nieminen says residents are pleased with the set-up, the local Kallio association is up in arms. The association is upset that the Helsinki Social Services Department decided to situate the centre in Kallio without first hearing from local residents.

“A two-year lease would have been appropriate. This building could serve as a retiree home, which is something that this area is missing. This neighbourhood is already home to too many elements that burden locals,” says Raimo Nenonen, chairman of the Kallio association.

The city has also rented another former hotel in Helsinki's Punavuori district to cope with the sudden upsurge in asylum seekers in recent years. The vast majority of asylum seekers coming to Finland arrive in Helsinki.

According to the Directorate of Immigration, last year the number of asylum seekers shot up to 4,035, compared with 1,505 the previous year and 2,324 in 2006.

Notice how the author attempts to trivialise the legitimate concerns expressed here by inserting the sub-headline 'not in my backyard', which in Britain at least is used as a code for 'moaning busybodies who won't shut up and let us do what we like'.

Also, the chairman of the residents' association went out of his way to confirm how pleased he was that his district has a reception centre for asylum seekers - best keep up the good-think, or else you might be accused of racism.

After all, what reasonable person believes that Finland's elderly should take priority over Third World parasites who have contributed absolutely nothing to the country, and probably never will? The article spends some words telling us how happy the asylum seekers are, as if that is the only concern here, and as if they wouldn't be.

Even questioning such a move is borderline, and has to be tip-toed around in very careful language.

It makes you wonder - what will we be allowed to say ten years down the line? If stating a fairly obvious truth puts you on the fringes of polite society now, where will it place you then?

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