Finland Offers New Life for Burmese Refugees

For about 19 years, the Burmese refugees were suffering from forced relocation and human rights abuses by the Burmese military. With the help of UN High Commissioner for refugees resettlement programme, more than 400 Burmese refugees are now living in Finland together with an estimated 750 refugees taken in annually from Turkey, Iran, Somali, Sudan and Thailand.
Living in shanties built of bamboo and thatch with minimal education offered, Burmese refugees in Karenni camps in Thailand are now seeking asylum in Finland where they can find freedom of movement and better education.
“I came to Finland for my children’s education and their future because there is no hope for my children’s further education in the refugee camp. Now my life has changed. I am no longer a refugee,” said a Burmese refugee, Ei Song.
There are about 3,000 applications seeking asylum in Finland annually, apart from over 10,000 applications for work and residence permits in which between 2,000 and 3,000 people receive Finnish citizenship.
“I am happy to work with Burmese refugees because I am happy to see them build a new life here in Finland,” said Virpi Kupiainen, a social worker in Kotka city in Finland. Kupiainen also added that Burmese people in Finland will have the same rights and education opportunities as Finnish people.

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