Discrimination against people of Sub-Saharan African descent in Finland is common. According to the findings of a new survey, almost a half (45%) of the respondents reported that they have experienced discrimination over the past year and 60% that they have experienced discrimination over the past five years.

Their experiences were mostly related to the use of public and private services, such as employment, health care and hospitality services.

The findings come from the second the European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS II). A total of 25,500 randomly selected first- and second-generation immigrants and members of ethnic minorities were interviewed.

As reported by The Helsinki Times, 500 people of immigrant and ethnic minority group backgrounds were interviewed in Finland’s capital region.

“The results are a clear confirmation that there’s a lot of racism in Finland,” Kirsi Pimiä, the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman of Finland, stated to Helsingin Sanomat on December 10.

“The researchers said they were shocked by the high ranking of Finland. They found it difficult to believe that there can be so much racism in a welfare state such as Finland.”

Michael O’Flaherty, the director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), noted that the new survey results “show that our laws and policies are inadequately protecting the people they are meant to serve”.

According to a FRA press release, discrimination remains a union-wide problem in all areas of life – especially, in job-seeking – in spite of the introduction of anti-discrimination laws at the turn of the millennium. For many, it adds, discrimination is a recurring experience.

“With every act of discrimination and hate, we erode social cohesion and create inequalities that blight generations fuelling the alienation that may ultimately have devastating consequences,” said O’Flaherty.

The only member state to yield a higher 12-month rate of discrimination against people of Sub-Saharan African descent was Luxembourg (50%). High 12-month rates of discrimination were reported also by North African respondents in the Netherlands (49%) and Roma respondents in Greece (48%) and Portugal (47%).