The Finnish Refugee Council is Finland’s largest expert organisation specialising in the issues of displacement and migration. Each year, we support thousands of people in recovering from conflicts and integrating into new societies. For over 50 years our work has positively impacted lives in Finland, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe. Finnish Refugee Council is the official communication and liaison partner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Finland.

In order to successfully implement our work, we continuously develop our expertise-based and focused way of working and follow good governance. Our work is enabled by a comprehensive and well-functioning cooperation network.


We support the realisation of refugees’
and migrants’ rights, and their equal participation as members and builders of societies.


Refugees and migrants are equal, participating
members of their societies, and their fundamental
rights are realised in a positive atmosphere of


Inclusion and equality
Transparency and responsibility

Cross-cutting themes

The work of the Finnish Refugee Council is defined by four cross-cutting themes. These themes guide all our activities, both in Finland as well as in our international operations.

Rights of refugees and migrants

The Finnish Refugee Council is an expert organisation focusing on immigration politics based on human rights and integration. We advocate a system of protection in accordance with UN and international law and recommendations, where everyone has the right to seek protection. Refugee or migration background does not justify denying public services. Special attention must be paid to the access of immigrants to the service system, and the structures of society must support effective integration.

Strengthening resilience

Refugees are in a vulnerable position all over the world. Family, work and school are often left behind to the old homeland. In addition, fleeing is often a traumatic experience. The Finnish Refugee Council brings hopefulness and motivation to the lives of those who have had to flee. The concrete skills we provide, such as literacy, language skills, life skills, entrepreneurship and knowledge about the society, strengthen refugees’ resilience in the new community.

Equal social participation

A person with a refugee or immigrant background wants to be an equal part of their new community. The Finnish Refugee Council creates possibilities for active citizenship for those who are not yet familiar with the civil society of the new country. We provide support for both organisations working with immigrants as well as joint actions by refugees, migrants and local residents.

Adaptation of the entire community

The Finnish Refugee Council contributes to good relations between population groups. In Finland and in our international operations, immigrants must adapt to new situations, but also the host community has to adapt. We work to ensure that integration into the new community runs smoothly through consensus and interaction. We influence the attitude of atmosphere in the host countries of refugees and migrants in order to create an environment that is positive, compassionate and respectful of human rights.

These themes serve as guidelines in all our work, whether supporting individuals, influencing changes in institutional systems or executing political advocacy.


The Executive Board decides on the major policies of the Finnish Refugee Council. In addition to the Chairperson, the Executive Board may have between 8 and 12 members. The Executive Board and the Chairperson are elected for two years at a time and the Executive Board meets approximately ten times a year.
The Executive Board of the Finnish Refugee Council for 2022–2023:
The Chairperson of the Executive Board: Liisa Jaakonsaari
The members of the Executive Board: Maria Bernas-Hilli, Irma Ertman, Suvi Purhonen, Lea Rankinen, Anne Rasskasov, Pekka Sauri, Mojtaba Qanezadeh and Merja Vihersalo
The alternate members of the Executive Board: Ramieza Mahdi and Päivikki Kumpulainen


The most important resource of the Finnish Refugee Council is its professional staff. The Finnish Refugee Council is an equal employer with a very diverse staff working in Finland and in the international operations. The staff of the country offices is hired locally, with the exception of the Country Directors.

In the end of 2018, the total number of personnel was 137, of whom 48 were employed in Finland and 89 abroad.


In 2019, the total funding of the Finnish Refugee Council was a little over EUR 4 million. The Finnish Refugee Council aims to broaden its financial base and continuously improves the efficiency, transparency and risk management of its administration.

Read more about our activities from our Annual Report.
More information about our International Development Programme in Annual Report 2020

The European Commission has awarded the Finnish Refugee Council with the certificate for EU humanitarian partnership covering 2021-2027. Read the certificate here.

Main donors and partners

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, With support from Finland's development cooperation
MHF logo
Kaikille eväät elämään
Council of Europe Development Bank
Lift logo
Tabella logo
Fingo, Frame Voice Report, EU
UNFPA logo