First the good news: with a cold winter about to slam Europe where thousand of refugees make their way north every day, and where many of these migrants have been scrambling to find any form of lodging ahead of the first snow, Finland has decided to generously provide much needed housing facilities.
The bad news: said facilities are empty shipping containers and tents. Neither has heating.
According to Reuters Finland, like Germany, has seen an acceleration in the influx of migrants this month, following a modest slow down last month, the interior ministry said on Tuesday. As a result, the Nordic nation "is preparing to house asylum seekers in tents and shipping containers."
The country took in just over 7,000 refugees in October - about 3,800 fewer than in September - but just last week more than 2,000 asylum seekers arrived. It expects 30,000-35,000 migrants to arrive this year, mostly from Iraq, compared with just 3,600 in 2014.
"Even with new centers being opened, the reception capacity will not be sufficient, and authorities are preparing for the use of tent and container accommodation," the ministry said in a statement.
Afghanis were the biggest single group in those who arrived last week, according to ministry figures. Finland recently stopped processing asylum claims from Afghanis out of security concerns, but has narrowed asylum criteria for Iraqis and Somalis based on its assessment that the security situation has improved in both countries.
Living in a shipping container may hardly be as comfortable an option as residing in NJ's bankrupt Revel casino, but it is better than nothing, which is what migrants in neighboring Sweden have to look forward to. Reuters notes that Sweden, which expects 190,000 asylum seekers this year, last week warned it could no longer guarantee finding accommodation for newly arrived refugees, and applied for EU emergency aid to cope with asylum seekers.
The worst news, however, is for residents of San Francisco: as reported previously, they too have the opportunity of living in a shipping container box, however unlike Finland's migrants they get to pay $1000/month for the privilege.
This is what a thousand dollars rents you in San Francisco.
We conclude with some good news: if Finland ever runs out of empty shipping container boxes, it should just kindly ask for the port of Long Beach to send it some. After all, as we wrote a month ago, a third of all containers "shipped" from the largest west coast port are empty as a result of an accelerating global recession. At least this way instead of fooling economists about the "recovering" state of the US economy, those thousands of containers, or as they are better known in Helsinki and San Francisco "houses", could save some lives.