Refugee crisis: Finland's prime minister pledges to give up his home to accommodate refugees

Juha Sipila has named a date and location for refugees to start moving in

Adam Withnall
Sunday 06 September 2015 11:37 BST

Finland’s prime minister, Juha Sipila, has said he will give up his home to accommodate refugees, part of a growing trend of politicians making personal gestures to help those fleeing war and persecution.

Mr Sipila is the first European leader to make such a concrete gesture, giving a date and specifying a location for when refugees can start moving in.

Speaking to Finland’s national broadcaster YLE, Mr Sipila said his family had a home in Kempele, central Finland, that they rarely used since they moved to the capital, Helsinki.

“We should all take a look in the mirror and ask how we can help,” he said.

In the UK, the Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper was asked on Sky’s Murnaghan programme whether she and husband Ed Balls would be willing to shelter refugees themselves.

She said: “If that's what it took and that's what was needed, then of course, I think lots of people would be. But what I've been calling for is for each city and each county to support 10 refugee families.”

When asked the same question on Sky Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, suggested the query was “gimmicky”, but added: “Yes I would.

“I've actually been overwhelmed over the past few days with messages from people across Scotland saying that they personally would be happy to give a home temporarily or for a longer period of time to somebody fleeing Syria, so yes, I would absolutely be happy to do that as part of a bigger, wider, more organised approach.”

Earlier this week the former prime minister of Hungary, a country which has faced criticism for its hardline approach to the refugee crisis, also opened up his family home to refugees.

Ferenc Gyurcsany said: “I am a normal human being.”

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