On Friday, Finland adjusted its forecast for the number of expected asylum-seekers to reach the country in 2015 from 30,000 to 50,000. The change comes after an increased inflow in September.
Many asylum-seekers are drawn to the preexisting Iraqi community in Finland, and are somewhat encouraged by the eased asylum criteria. After a lengthy journey through central Europe, thousands of Iraqis arrived in Finland last month.
“A new railway connection from southern Sweden to Lulea, due to open on Saturday, may in the short term increase the number of asylum seekers coming to Finland,” said Minister of the Interior Petteri Orpo.
More than 500,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Finland, and 18,400 have been granted asylum this year. Relative to its population, the amount of people seeking asylum in Finland is comparable to Germany and Sweden, which have largely been seen as favorable destinations by refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
To apply for asylum in Finland, one must have a well-founded fear of being persecuted in their home country and be physically present in Finland. The Finnish government provides temporary living quarters, known as reception centers, while applications are being processed.
The United States suffered another school shooting, the 45th in 2015 alone, after a 26-year-old gunman murdered nine people and wounded seven more at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.
Investigators have been focusing on reports from survivors and witnesses claiming that the gunman told students to state their religion, and that he appeared to target Christian students.
Authorities have also begun investigating a message that the gunman allegedly posted to the online image and message board website 4chan.org that warned people to stay away from the school.
Hours after the shooting, President Barack Obama addressed the tragedy, expressing frustration and exhaustion towards shootings in America.
“As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before, that and each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It does nothing to prevent this carnage being inflicted some place in America, next week or a couple months from now. Somehow this has become routine,” said the president.
Russia launched a series of airstrikes in Syria on Thursday against the Islamic State. However, local media reported that the airstrikes targeted other militant groups that are fighting the Syrian government, but not the IS.
Russia’s airstrikes came one day after the United States expressed its concern that Russia was targeting non-IS opposition groups in Syria. US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter characterized the Russian approach as “tantamount to pouring gasoline on the fire.”
Russia denied the United States’ assertions. “The rumors that the target of these airstrikes was not IS positions are unfounded,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, “Talk began that civilians were hurt by air strikes. We have no such data.”
Russia claimed to hit 12 IS positions, including a command center and two arms depots, although this cannot be independently verified. Russia and the United States are expected to hold talks in the near future on avoiding clashes between their forces in the region.