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Refugee protests on Sweden-Finland border

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Refugee protests on Sweden-Finland border
The bus station at the border between Sweden and Finland in northern Sweden. Photo: Nicesmurf, via Wikimedia
14:40 CEST+02:00
Hundreds of Finnish protestors demonstrated on Saturday morning at the Swedish-Finnish border against an influx of refugees, while on the Swedish side many campaigners were demonstrating their support for the refugees.

“There are an estimated 600 protestors on the Finnish side of the border in Tornio, linking arms at the border,” Fredrik Linder, duty officer at the police in Norrbotten told Swedish newspaper, Expressen.

“The Finns have signs such as ‘Go home Isis,' " a photographer Bob Olovsson also told the newspaper.

Police tried to keep order on the border between Sweden and Finland, which is situated at the top of the Bothnian Gulf where the towns of Haparanda (Sweden) and Tornio (Finland) sit side-by-side.

Linder told Expressen: “There are a few on the Swedish side, and roughly 600 on the Finnish side. But it is a passive demonstration at present to not to let refugees cross the border.”

Olovsson added: “There are lots of Finnish flags, Finnish hockey shirts and signs with messages in English such as 'Go home Isis' and similar things.”

"That's enough now, close the borders," was written on one of the banners.

Peter Waara, the Social Democrat mayor of Haparanda, said: “There were right-wing extremists gathered at the bus station in Haparanda. When I left, the place was quiet, but police were still there.” 

According to police, the demonstrations were conducted without violence. At 1pm, the police presence was removed as most of the demonstrators had left. 

Finnish Broadcasting Corporation (Yle) has estimated that around 1,000 refugees a week are currently crossing into Finland at the border at Haparanda.

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 the country.

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 Yle.

Last week, Finland agreed to accept its two percent share of the 120,000 asylum seekers to be relocated across European Union states, but said it remained opposed to a mandatory quotas.

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

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