Norway asks Russia to explain high number of refugees
Foreign Ministers Brende and Lavrov also met in Kirkenes in October 2014.(Photo: Thomas Nilsen)
Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende has asked Russia for an explanation to the high number of asylum seekers coming to Norway via Russia. Syrian refugees that have lived in Russia for a long time, will be stopped on the border and sent back.
“Mr. Lavrov said he would look into the matter,” Brende said.
Only during the last week 378 refugees crossed the border between Russia and Norway at Storskog, the only border-crossing point between the two countries.
So far more than 1200 people have come from Russia to Norway to ask for asylum. In 2014 the total number was 20. Norwegian immigration authorities believe the number can reach 5000 by the end of the year.
Can be sent back to Russia
Minister of Justice Anders Anundsen suspects that the large traffic of refugees from Russia is organized, and wants asylum seekers with no real need for protection in Norway, to be returned to Russia. Some of the people who are now applying for asylum in Norway, have lived in Russia for as long as up to twelve years.
“Many of them came to Russia long before the war in Syria started, “Anundsen said to NRK. “They are not in need, and can live safely in Russia. We have to spend our resources on those who really need protection.”
Anundsen is now working on a set of instructions that will order the Norwegian Immigration Service (UDI) to prioritize to return to Russia people who have lived there for a long time. He hopes the instructions will come into force already next week.
Norway and Russia in 2007 concluded an agreement on return that allows Norwegian authorities to stop people on the border and send them back to Russia, if they have permission to live there.
“People twho don’t have permission to live in Russia and have fled directly from war zones, will of course have their applications handled properly,” Anundsen underlines.