Refugees are leaving Finland by the thousands, in part, because it’s too cold.
The head of a small travel agency in Helsinki, the country’s capital, told Reuters: “Some say they don’t like the food here, it’s too cold or they don’t feel welcome in Finland. There are many reasons.”
February is the coldest month in Helsinki, when the average temperature is -6 degrees Celsius (22 degrees Fahrenheit).
At the end of January, Finnish officials said that almost 70% of Iraqi asylum seekers whose applications were processed last year abandoned their claim and returned home, AFP reports.
“They have told us that family issues in their home country force them to go back. Some have found the Finnish atmosphere hostile and some have not stayed because of the dark autumn and cold winter,” AFP quoted Juha Simila, from the Finnish Immigration Service, as saying.
Asylum seekers are also frustrated with the long processing times.
More than 32,000 people sought asylum in Finland last year, compared to 3,600 in 2014. For perspective, officials only approved 3,700 Iraqi applications out of the 20,500 that applied in 2015, AFP reports.
Meanwhile, officials say that roughly 4,100 asylum seekers have cancelled their applications for asylum this year. Finland is now chartering flights to take refugees back to Baghdad, according to Reuters.
The story is similar in Germany, where refugees name slow asylum procedures, terrible conditions in refugee camps, and cultural differences as reasons for returning home.
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