Norway accused of sending young refugees to France

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The French humanitarian aid organization Utopia claims that Norway is indirectly sending its young asylum seekers from Afghanistan on to France, because of Norwegian policies that forcibly return asylum seekers back home when they turn 18.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that in March alone, 41 young asylum seekers who had arrived in Norway alone disappeared from Norwegian asylum centers. They feared they’d be sent back to Afghanistan, so opted to flee again.

NRK reported that many of them are now living on the streets of French cities, especially in Paris, and French officials are raising objections. “It’s clearly a big problem for France that (the asylum seekers) come here,” Yann Manzi, founder of Utopia, told NRK. “We’re seeing that they now come from Germany and Norway. They earlier came from Italy and Greece.”

He blames strict and controversial Norwegian regulations imposed by Norway’s conservative government that compel immigration authorities to send young asylum seekers back to areas of Afghanistan that the Norwegian government deems as safe, when they reach the age of 18.

Torkil Åmland, state secretary for Norway’s conservative Progress Party, disagrees with Utopia’s claim that Norway is transferring its immigration problems to France. “We simply have an effective return policy, so that those who no longer need protection and who should no longer remain in Norway can be returned to their homeland,” Åmland told NRK. “The EU wants all countries to follow this practice.” He claimed that France and other EU countries should strengthen their own asylum policies: “Without effective asylum policies, the whole system can break down because there will be so many people in Europe who really don’t need protection.” staff