Finland: Concern about potential immigrant ghettos

Finland: Concern about potential immigrant ghettos

An interior ministry working group meeting with the City of Turku has issued a warning about the possible emergence of immigrant "ghettos" in Finland's cities. Officials noted that concentrated settlement of immigrants in certain residential districts can create significant social problems. In order to avoid them, they concluded, the supply of rental accommodation must be increased, language teaching made more efficient, and suburban amenities and services improved. The recommendations were the outcome of a meeting between the City of Turku and the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations (ETNO).

"Thankfully Finland is not currently home to any sort of immigrant ghetto, but there has certainly been some movement towards demographic segregation," notes Ritva Viljanen, head of ETNO and Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of the Interior.

Viljanen feels that lessons in Finnish or Swedish for immigrants are an essential part of avoiding the problems created by social segregation, and that the supply of language lessons in local schools should consequently be increased.

According to Turku City Director Mikko Lohikoski, the reason immigrants tend to concentrate in certain parts of the city is because it is there that the bulk of available rental accommodation lies. He also points out that resources for increasing the rental housing stock, and the availability of language lessons, have recently become much scarcer. "But I firmly hope that we can somehow secure more resources for these pressing issues," Lohikoski concluded.

Source: Helsinki Times (English)

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