Rejected refugees go on a rampage
November 30, 2009
Would-be refugees whose applications for asylum were rejected have resorted to violence at some facilities where they’re housed while awaiting deportation. Justice Ministry officials in charge of immigration issues will now examine conditions at the facilities, in an effort to head off further vandalism and threats against personnel.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported Monday that tensions at the Fagerli asylum center near Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen have spilled over into violence. Asylum seekers whose attempts to stay in Norway were turned down have made death threats against employees, smashed TV sets, set fires and intentionally injured themselves.
Spartan conditions at the center reportedly stoked the aggression, since the rejected refugees have little to do while they wait to be sent out of the country.
Only one in six leave voluntarily, reports Aftenposten . The remainder continue to sit at the center, with no working permission, just to have a roof over their heads.
Conditions are intentionally kept at a bare minimum, to discourage occupants from staying long. They receive three meals a day, acute health care if needed and around NOK 100 (USD 17) a week in pocket money.
Only men live at Fagerli and at another “waiting center” in Lier, not far from Drammen. Most are aged 20 to 40, according to Aftenposten .
They feel they have nowhere to go and frustrations grow — against Norway, against staff at the center and against their roommates. Nearly 100 men were living at Fagerli last week, when yet another TV was vandalized.
“We’re treated like animals here,” one resident from Iran told Aftenposten . “We get bad food, many men live in crowded rooms and we don’t get to go to the doctor when we need to.”
He and many others claim their applications for asylum in Norway were incorrectly handled, and that it’s impossible for them to return to their home countries. They describe conditions at Fagerli as “dangerous” and that they’ll lead to a “tragedy.”
Officials at immigration agency UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet) and the Justice Ministry told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) they will examine conditions at the center and consider the complaints of the residents.
While accommodation is meant to be kept at a minimum standard, residents at the Lier center who agree to leave the country are offered job training, English classes and basic information technology training, to help prepare them for a new life.
On Monday, violence broke out at another asylum center in Buskerud County. NRK reported that a fight involving residents resulted in injuries to two persons and that police had to be called.