Disgruntled asylum seekers ran amok at two holding facilities outside Oslo, smashing windows, destroying furnishings and setting fires. It’s the latest incident of violence and vandalism carried out mostly by men whose applications for asylum have been turned down.
An official at the Fagerli asylum center in Nannestad, near Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that the trouble began late Monday when three young men returned to the center after a night out on the town.
“They were quarrelsome when they came in,” said Audun Storli Fiskum, leader of Fagerli. “Some other men sat and played cards, and then a fight broke out. It developed into a brawl when they began to break windows, the reception desk, doors and most anything breakable.”
Storli Fiskum said staff members tried to calm the men down but had to retreat and call the police. Residents were evacuated, while some jumped out of windows. “Fortunately no one was injured,” Storli Fiskum told NRK.
Firefighters quickly extinguished fires that had been set, but the building sustained enough damage to render it uninhabitable. Arrangements were being made on Tuesday to send the residents to other asylum centers.
A brawl also reportedly broke out at another asylum center at Lier, west of Oslo, after similar incidents last fall. Residents and asylum advocates blame frustration over poor conditions at the centers, where many are being held pending their deportation out of Norway.
Storli Fiskum denied conditions were poor, claiming they’d actually improved in recent months and that he intended to report those behind the vandalism to the police.