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Flow of refugees via Russia keeps growing

This sports hall, which was originally built as a bomb shelter inside a hill, is now housing refugees from Syria.

More and more refugees from Syria and other countries choose to come to Norway via Russia. In the border town of Kirkenes a second refugee reception center is opening.

The number of refugees crossing the Russian-Norwegian border at Storskog border-crossing point this year has already reached 500, and the police predicts that more will come.

Only a few days ago the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration and Sør-Varanger municipality opened a refugee reception center in a sports hall in Kirkenes.

The center already houses 110 refugees waiting to be relocated to other places in Norway. The refugees are being registered, and given medical examination at the local hospital. 

A second reception center is now opening at a hotel in Neiden, some 30 kilometers outside Kirkenes. This center will have room for 100 persons, Sør-Varanger Avis writes.

Many of the refugees coming to Norway from Russia, have stayed in Russia for a longer period, in some cases as long as five to seven years. Many of them have lived in Moscow on student visas or work visas, the National Police Immigration Service says according to NRK.

Fewer job opportunities and a feeling that being a foreigner in Russia has become more difficult make many of the Syrians want to leave Russia, one of the refugees in the reception center in Kirkenes says to NRK.

As Russian border regulations say that it is not allowed to cross the border on foot, and Norwegian police is punishing drivers transporting people without documents across the border, the only solution for the refugees has been to cycle across the border. The police at Storskog is wondering what to do with the more than 350 bicycles that are filling up their garages and parking places. Many refugee centers in Norway have asked to be given some of the bicycles, but since most of the bicycles do not answer to Norwegian standards of safety, the police are reluctant to give them away, NRK writes.