What if you would become undocumented?

What if your life in your dear homeland would become utterly difficult. You would constantly struggle to survive from day to day life. What if you would feel like you are suffering and living in fear in your homeland. What if your life would seem doomed if you stayed in your homeland and imagined the next years there amidst all hardships and low quality of life. What if your only hope would seem to be elsewhere, abroad, in a paradise continent called Europe.

Thousands and thousands of immigrants make that choice every day. We have the refugees, we have the asylum seekers and then we have the immigrants. And the undocumented ones. A refugee is a person who is forced to flee from his / her country due to violence, war or persecution. A refugee is recognised by the 1951 Refugee Convention. An asylum seeker is a person who is seeking to be recognised as a refugee and is seeking an asylum from another country. An immigrant is a person who moves to a foreign country to live there permanently and to find a better life there. The undocumented one is a person who does not have or has lost the right to stay and work legally in a foreign country.

“Limbo means living in the miserable Greek EU hotspots, or being trapped and pushed back at the borders. It means living in the desperate search for protection and human dignity.” Karl Kopp of Pro Asyl, Germany’s pro-immigration advocacy organisation

This is how Mr Karl Kopp shortly describes the situation now. An increasing number of people are trying to catch their dream of living in wealthy Europe. According to the article in Guardian it is estimated that around 900 000 asylum seekers are living in limbo within EU and waiting for their claims to be handled. Most of the cases live in the overcrowded camps in Athens and Lesbos, in addition to the unofficial camp sites in Greece also. In very uncertain and degrading circumstances.

According to Eurostat, the amount of undocumented people in EU region seems to be the largest in Germany (134 100 in 2018), then comes France (105 900 in 2018) and third largest is Italy. Finland is not a popular place; there seems to be an estimated number of 3 000 – 10 000 undocumented people here.

What can our EU do? How is the mighty EU (and Finland) going to solve this growing number of dream catchers?

Solutions are warmly welcome.


Diakonissalaitos. 2019. Paperittomia on Suomessa entistä enemmän ja uutena ilmiönä on kasvanut lapsiperheiden määrä. Accessed 2.10.2019. https://www.hdl.fi/blog/2019/03/29/paperittomia-on-suomessa-entista-enemman-ja-uutena-ilmiona-on-kasvanut-lapsiperheiden-maara/

Tondo, L. 25 Aug 2019. Nearly 900 000 asylum seekers living in limbo in EU, figures show. Accessed 1.10.2019. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/25/asylum-seekers-limbo-eu-countries

UNHCR. 2019. Refugee facts: What is a refugee? Accessed 1.10.2019. https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/

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3 ajatusta aiheesta “What if you would become undocumented?”

  1. Petra, you have given us picture of the undocumented reality. This is a problem that is not going away in a hurry. You close your post with a call for solutions. One solution would be to relax the criteria for asylum/immigration, but so long as the political appetite for this remains weak, the degrading reality for the undocumented will continue. It seems to me that exerting influence at all levels, socially and politically, is the right thing to do. I found your post lively, well-informed, and thought-provoking. Thanks!

  2. Mr Nick, thank you for your comment input! Creating awareness and making stories around the human beings might help. Some cold news with numbers, statistics are not helping so much. I also understand the decision makers when there is no clear solution to the matter. It is complicated. Since where do you draw the line if the immigration laws are being relaxed? I understand your point also though. Hmmmm! Tough call for EU countries to try to solve the matter. We stay tuned!

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