More than 20 illegal aliens, all of them asylum seekers whose applications had been rejected, were in police custody on Wednesday after they allegedly burned down former military barracks where they’d been given shelter in Lier. Now they face forced deportation.
The destruction during the night followed a spree of vandalism and violence at both the shelter in Lier, west of Oslo, and at another similar facility in Nannestad, north of Oslo. Immigration authorities in charge of both believe the unrest, sparked by a quarrel Monday night among residents at the Fagerli facility in Nannestad, spread via telephone.
Three of the Fagerli residents were arrested while the rest, around 90 in all, were transferred on Tuesday to other asylum centers in southern Norway after Fagerli was deemed uninhabitable.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported that meetings were held at the Lier shelter on Tuesday between representative of its 141 residents, its management, immigration authorities and police. The unrest continued, however, culminating in the blazes that now have left all its buildings burned to the ground.
The facilities were set up merely as shelters, to offer rejected refugees a roof over their heads until they either left Norway voluntarily or were deported. State officials have been stymied in their deportation efforts, however, because of uncertainty over the illegal aliens’ identities or countries of origin or lack of functioning authority in their homeland.
So they’ve been offered basic accommodation and food in Lier and Nannestad, but frustration grew among the illegal aliens. They’ve complained over poor living conditions and sheer boredom, because they’re not allowed to work since they lack legal residence status.
“We had to demonstrate to show we’re not satisfied,” one man from Congo told Aftenposten. “The authorities must decide whether to send us home or allow us to integrate into society.”
The authorities argue it’s not that simple but now, saying they were “shocked” over the vandalism and destruction, it’s likely they’ll be forcibly deported.
“These are people who have no right to be in Norway, and if they don’t leave voluntarily, we’ll find a way to transport them by force,” State Secretary Pål K Lønseth in the Justice Ministry told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Wednesday morning.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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