Photo: Tuomo Manninen
Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta
Translated by Matthew Billington
The refugee crisis can also be managed by looking to the future
Europe is currently experiencing a global refugee crisis that has wide-ranging consequences on people and societies. Tuija Talvitie, the Executive Director of Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), says that amidst an acute emergency, the focus should be on solving the underlying issues.
– The solution cannot simply be to invest in emergency aid. It is extremely important to provide the refugees with security, clothes and shelter. At the same time you have to think about where the problem originates. Dealing with root causes is what brings results, and Finland has to be part of that global endeavour.
Talvitie says that the refugee crisis will not go away by simply hoping that the storm will pass. She emphasises that when deciding where to direct resources during a crisis there should be a clear idea of what it will all lead to in a few years.
– The issues to be solved do not only exist in the present, but also in the past and the future. Of course you have to provide humanitarian aid during an emergency, but you also have to turn your eye to the future. Many of the refugees coming to Finland are well-educated. We should realise what a great asset they could be for our society. When refugees reach a safe place, they want to do the same things as everyone else, including work.
When faced with difficulties, the natural reaction is to turn inwards. In contemporary society and at the national level that is simply not possible.
– In Finland we cannot think that when we are facing economic challenges, we can simply concentrate on ourselves and isolate ourselves so as to be left in peace. That is absolutely the wrong policy. Neither life nor the world works that way. Finnish society needs openness and international collaboration at all levels and in every possible way.”
Written by Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, translated by Tomi Setälä, revised by Matthew Billington
Tuija Kristiina Talvitie
Born August 29, Lapua
Master of Arts (English philology) 1987, University of Helsinki
Executive director 2009–, Crisis Management Initiative (CMI)
Executive director 1997–2009, British Council Finland
Exchanges Officer and Assistant Librarian 2 1987–97, British Council Finland