Anti-migrant demo in Finland over refugee influx

A child sits at a temporary holding camp for migrants and refugees close to Hungary's border with Serbia. During this migrant crisis, hundreds of migrants have had their journeys blocked or halted, leaving them unable to cross boarders in Europe. (File photo: AP)

Several dozen demonstrators formed a “human wall” and briefly blocked a border point in a northern Finnish town Saturday in protest at a dramatic spike in the number of asylum seekers crossing over from Sweden, a local official said.

Waving Finnish flags, protesters “from the extreme-right” formed a line in Tornio urging refugees and migrants to stay away, said local councillor Peter Waara from the adjacent Swedish town of Haparanda, where a counter-demonstration took place.

Both rallies had dispersed peacefully by the end of the morning.

Finland expects a total of 25,000 to 30,000 asylum seekers this year, seven to eight times as many as in 2014.

The Finnish government on Thursday said it would step up controls at the border with Sweden following a spike in mostly Iraqi asylum seekers, many of whom had simply walked into Tornio from Haparanda after arriving in Sweden.

Up to 800 people entered Tornio on Friday alone, the largest number of refugees to arrive in the country on a single day since the Russian Revolution, according to figures from the Red Cross cited on Finnish public broadcaster Yle.

Authorities are set to open a registration office for asylum seekers at a disused high school in the town on Tuesday.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48