24/7 Crisis Services assist Finns abroad round the clock
"One of our main duties is to provide advice to Finnish citizens in distress abroad", says Jonna from the Foreign Ministry’s 24/7 Crisis Services.The hotline is open round the clock every day of the year.
The most common queries concern missing or stolen passports.
“We also take care of matters related to the death or hospitalisation abroad of Finnish citizens or foreign citizens with a permanent residence in Finland as well as other emergencies encountered by them abroad when the local mission and the Ministry in Finland are closed.
Assistance is asked in diverse situations. These include cases when a person falls ill, has an accident or becomes a victim of a crime, inquiries by family or friends, and cases involving maintenance or abduction of a child.
The Foreign Ministry’s general advice to travellers is to first contact the authorities in the country of destination. In an emergency, the authorities in the travel destination are responsible for assisting also foreign citizens staying in the country. As there are a number of reasons why this is not always possible, however, the 24/7 Crisis Services is prepared to help.
Besides the various standby duties, we can obtain extracts from foreign population registers should the client be unable to do it,” Jonna describes her work duties.
Pilot project under way for nearly two years
Jonna considers her work at the 24/7 Crisis Services meaningful because learning new things all the time is gratifying.
“The 24/7 Crisis Services started operations two years ago and we get new information related to consular assistance and established practices of the public authorities in different countries every week. Our work duties have also been updated and expanded in the course of the two years when the pilot project has been under way,” Jonna says.
The centralised service number for round-the-clock advice and consular assistance was established to be able to help Finnish citizens in distress abroad effectively. Before that, advice was provided in the missions of Finland abroad.
“I believe that the quality of the service provided by the Ministry is now of a more equal standard and more efficient,” Jonna estimates.
Web consul for those with a Facebook account
The 24/7 Crisis Services staff advice travellers and Finnish citizens with a permanent residence abroad also via a web consul on Facebook. Questions posted on Facebook are replied in the course of the working day.
“Many questions are related to entry permits and visa practices applied in different countries but, unfortunately, we do not have enough capacity to answer to them. We advise our client to find out about the relevant entry regulations by visiting the website of the mission of the country in question in Finland or in a country in the neighbourhood or to contact the mission’s service number,” Jonna says.
“We also remind our clients that in emergencies assistance can be sought at a local mission of some other EU country in case Finland does not have a mission of its own in the country,” Jonna tells.