Finland has said some 160 people who applied for asylum at the country’s eastern border with Russia last year have since gone missing.
According to the Finnish immigration authority, the country got 1,323 asylum applications at the eastern border between August and December last year, about 900 of those in November and more than 300 in December.
Antti Lehtinen, Asylum Unit director at the Finnish immigration authority, said, “160 people are now missing from reception centers, most with unknown whereabouts,” Reuters reported Friday.
“It’s of course possible that of these 160 most of them have continued to another country, but they haven’t yet applied for asylum in that country,” added Lehtinen, who noted that every asylum seeker in Finland has their fingerprint taken for Europe’s shared fingerprint database.
On January 11, the Finnish government decided to extend the closure of the land border with Russia until February 11, amid accusations that Moscow drove migrants and asylum seekers to the frontier to sow discord as payback for the Nordic country joining the NATO military alliance.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied the claims, with the Russian foreign ministry saying a previous decision taken by Finland to close a number of checkpoints on the border is “unequivocally” provocative.