Norway’s Refugee Dilemma
Photo : Julien Harneis § An asylum child waiting in line with his parents.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
700 children who have been legally resident in Norway still live in
refugee reception centers. The governement discusses where they should
Nigerian Tina Jane and her daughter lived four years after staying at
the reception center in Norway temporarily. Then they received their
residence permit. After too many years in the reception, the granted
permit became a hope for their new life in the country. But their
disappointment continued, because the family had to live another eight
months in the reception before a municipality agreed to receive them.
It took a very long time. Only now I can live like a normal human
being. I can go to a place that I can call mine. I have a home, says
Tina Jane to Norwegian daily Aftenposten. She also noted how difficult
it was for her little daughter to live like this.
Questions around Responbility
writes that only 64 of the 368 municipalities agreed to accept as many
refugees as the government wants. 27 municipalities simply reject, while
204 municipalities receive less than the government has requested. 73
municipalities have not even responded to the request of Integration and
Diversity Directorate, IMDI.
- This is serious and sad. This
means that children will live for asylum for an unnecessarily long time,
says Janne Olise Raanes, head of Norway program of Save the Children.
Save the Children has sent letters to all the municipalities in which
they are encouraged to accept more refugees.- Children are the biggest
loser. It is a shameful situation for both the municipalities and the
state. State pushes responsibility down and municipalities are talking
about how difficult the task is, says Raanes.
She also says that
faster settlement will not only be to the individual child’s best
interests, but it will also be for the benefit of society with saster
settlement, faster integration and less unnecessary pressure on the
- When local authorities say it costs too much,
so the government must listen. It is clear that some municipalities have
integration challenges. But the solution is not to let the children
live in reception centers. These are children that the State has granted
permission to stay in Norway. It is unacceptable that each municipality
say no, says Raanes.
Tina Jane, on the other hand, justifies the
municipalities’ challenging situation. - Life in a reception center is
terribly sad. A lot of people come and go with very difficult destinies.
At the same time I realize that it is difficult for the municipality.
They pay everything for us and cover the rent, says she.
Who comes to Norway as refugees?
are two main groups of refugees who come to Norway. The first group
consists of asylum seekers who come to Norway on their own initiative,
and the second group consists of resettlement refugees. Resettlement
refugees are refugees who cannot return to their home country and cannot
be granted residence in the country in which they are staying.
Resettlement refugees’ cases are processed by and, they are recognised
by, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) before they arrive in
Norway. The Norwegian parliament, the Storting, stipulates a quota for
the number of resettlement refugees Norway accepts each year. In 2010,
Norway accepted 1,300 resettlement refugees. Most of the 2010 quota was
reserved for Eritrean, Afghan, Palestinian, Burmese and Iranian
refugees. Minimum 55 per cent were to be women and girls, while 15 per
cent of the places were for vulnerable female refugees.
there are asylum seekers who come to Norway on their own initiative and
apply for protection from the Norwegian authorities. In the end of
September, the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) had received 7,299
asylum applications. Many of these applicants come from countries badly
affected by war or previous conflicts. The biggest groups of asylum
seekers come from Eritrea, Somalia and Afghanistan. Not everyone who
applies for asylum in Norway is entitled to protection or a residence
Persons with refugee background in Norway
total of 163 500 persons with a refugee background were living in
Norway on 1 January 2012. These persons accounted for 3.3 per cent of
the Norwegian population, and 30 per cent of all immigrants in Norway.
The two largest groups were persons with a refugee background from Iraq
During 2011, the number of persons with a refugee
background increased by 5 800. With an increase of 1 500, the persons
with an Eritrean background had the strongest growth, followed by
Somalia and Afghanistan, with a growth of 1 200 and 800 persons
respectively. These are the same three groups that increased the most in
Around 163 500 persons with a refugee background were
living in Norway on 1 January 2012. Of this, 119 100 were registered as
principal applicants, while the rest (44 400) came as dependents. Iraqis
have been the largest group since 2003, and also made up the largest
group in 2011, with a total of 20 600 persons. The second largest group
consisted of persons with a Somali background (20 100).
Most youngsters, most men and most with Norwegian citizenship
refugees were overrepresented, with around 10 200 more men than women
as at 1 January 2012. A total of 44 per cent of persons with a refugee
background were aged 20-39, while the corresponding figure for the
population as a whole was 27 per cent.
A total of 63 per cent of
persons with a refugee background had Norwegian citizenship. Oslo was
still the county with the most residents with a refugee background; 43
400 persons. This is 27 per cent of the whole population with a refugee
background, 31 per cent of all immigrants in Oslo and 7 per cent of the
city’s total population. A total of 19 300 persons with a refugee
background lived in Akershus, and 12 100 in Rogaland on 1 January 2012.
The lowest number of persons with a refugee background is found in
Finnmark, with 1 500.