>> More than 100 asylum seekers have gathered here in Helsinki, outside the Finnish immigration offices, to protest against tightened Finnish immigration policies that are sending more and more asylum seekers back to their war-torn homes. This is Tuomas Forsell, reporting for Reuters News from Helsinki.
Finland set new restrictions on residence permits in May, saying Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia are now largely safe and the asylum seekers can return to their home countries. The Nordic country received more than 32,000 asylum seekers last year, nearly ten times more than the previous. Anti-immigrant sentiment among Finns has been on the rise.
And the immigration office has been under pressure to speed its application process. The government denies any intervention in the guidelines, saying they are purely based on immigration office's security assessments, which are similar with other Nordic countries. Most of the asylum seekers that arrived in Finland last year came from Iraq.
After May, more than 75% of their applications have been turned down. Previously, the same number was below 30%.>>