Iraqi refugees kiss ground as they return home

103 refugees returning from Finland arrived onboard an Iraqi Airways plane and were received at the Baghdad International Airport

Iraqi refugees kiss ground as they return home

World Bulletin / News Desk

More than 100 Iraqi refugees who arrived in Finland last year have returned to Iraq voluntarily, citing family issues and disappointment with life in the frosty Nordic country.

The 103 returning refugees arrived onboard an Iraqi Airways plane and were received at the Baghdad International Airport on Thursday by representatives of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.

Almost two thirds of Finland's asylum seekers last year were young Iraqi men, but some are now having second thoughts, so Finland began chartering flights to Baghdad this week to take them home.

A majority of the home-bound refugees have told immigration services they want to return to their families, but some expressed disappointment with life in Finland.

"We cannot say that treatment there was not good, but we've got tired of waiting without a solution. We have been there for seven months. So, we decided to return. They have not deported us by force, but we've got tired," said Umm Abdulah, who returned to Iraq with her husband and two children.

"I am married with two children. Media reports and news on migration prompted me to leave (Iraq). Before I left I made contacts with people there (in Finland) and I was told that I could bring my family within four months. I have been there for eight months and I could not bring my family. I could not do anything for myself, so how can I do something for others? I could not build my happiness on the misery of others. My family is more important to me," said Hussein Abu Aram, a young Iraqi man.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Jamal, said that around 10,000 Iraqi refugees will return from Finland in the coming weeks.

"This is the first batch and it will be followed by other batches of Iraqi refugees who have registered for voluntary return to Iraq. There will be one flight a week from Finland to the Iraqi capital Baghdad. Each flight will transport 100-150 Iraqi refugees who decided to return home," Jamal said.

"The number of Iraqi refugees in Finland is up to 20,000. About half of this number - that is 10,000 Iraqi refugees - have decided to return to Iraq," he added.

Last year the Finnish government and the International Organization for Migration provided financial help to 631 returnees and a similar number is expected this year.

The charter flights will carry up to 100 passengers back to Baghdad from Helsinki every week for as long as demand lasts, officials said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Şubat 2016, 13:54