More and more Finns fall ill or die abroad
The number of Finns falling ill or dying abroad grows year by year. Last year the Finnish embassies and diplomatic missions abroad were informed of 496 cases of falling ill and 328 deaths.
Both figures indicate an increase by more than ten per cent compared to the year before.
”Especially the number of deaths is affected by the fact that more and more Finnish senior citizens live permanently abroad”, estimates director Pasi Tuominen of the Unit for Consular Services at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
“The more elderly Finns decide to move abroad, the more we will have overseas deaths as well. Accidental deaths play a minor role in the figures.”
Last year, however, the figure of accidental deaths was exceptionally high as nine Finns lost their lives in a bus accident in Málaga, Spain, in April.
Each year several hundred Finns also fall victim to a crime abroad. Last year’s figure was 1,700. The increase compared to 2007 was a couple of dozen cases. Not all incidents come to the attention of the Finnish embassies or consulates.
“The main reason for the growing figure is the increase of tourism. Secondly, people are nowadays more aware of the services provided by the Finnish representations abroad, so more cases get reported.”
For example in the Finnish favourite holiday destinations of Spain and Thailand, and also in Russia and Estonia, the local Finnish representations are contacted quite frequently.
Last year the embassies gave financial assistance to distressed Finnish citizens abroad in about 200 cases. A reimbursement obligation applied to some of the cases of monetary aid. For example, in certain cases financial support was given to those Finns who had fallen ill abroad and lacked sufficient funds to travel back home.
The number of monetary assistance cases has fallen, however. As late as in 2006 nearly a hundred more Finns were helped in this way overseas.
“I predict that this year the development will be reversed to a certain extent. Because of the tighter economic situation, people may skip taking out adequate travel insurance”, Tuominen reckons.
Last year six Finns fell ill and 69 died in Sweden. The high number of deaths is explained by the thousands of elderly Finns now living in the neighbouring country, where they moved for work in the 1960s and 1970s as a result of the mechanisation of the Finnish farming industry.
The corresponding figures for the United States were 14 and 4, Germany 12 and 10, Spain 203 and 66, Thailand 33 and 29, and China 6 and 2.
In Russia, 37 Finns reported having fallen victim to some form of physical violence. Estonia’s seven reported incidents was the second highest figure in this category.
Spain (which also includes the still hugely popular Canary Islands) led the way in reports of thefts of property, with 452 cases. Italy was next with 246, and Russia was the only other destination with more than 100 cases.
Spain was also the leader in cases of Finns getting themselves arrested and held in custody. A total of 38 Finns managed this in 2008. Another 25 fell foul of law enforcement officers in the United States.
In the 2008 consulate statistics there was also a peak in the number of filed citizenship applications.
Former Finnish citizens living abroad and their children were allowed to apply for citizenship through a declaration procedure until early June of last year.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finns not overly eco-friendly in their holiday choices (9.1.2009)
SUNDAY MORNING 1:40: At least nine Finnish tourists dead in Costa del Sol bus crash (18.4.2008)
Ministry for Foreign Affairs: Diplomatic Missions Abroad