Hot summer for asylum officials

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Norwegian officials charged with taking care of asylum seekers in Norway have had a busy summer. More unrest broke out at an asylum center in Hedmark this week, while controversy continues over attempts to deport others.

Police arrested four persons after a brawl at the Haslemoen asylum center in Hedmark. Police officers from both Elverum and Kongsvinger responded to calls for help from those running the center when the fight broke out on Monday. The fight was followed by a stabbing on Tuesday.

“Both employees and residents at the center were beaten and injured,” operations leader Geir Rygh of the Hedmark Police District told news bureau NTB. He said none of the injuries was serious, but four persons were arrested and taken to the police station in Hamar.

Security was boosted at Haslemoen on Wednesday with more guards to the center, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), and a group was organized to deal with conflict resolution.

Repeat offenders
It’s the latest string of violence tied to persons whose applications for asylum have been rejected. Several went on rampages at centers near in Nannestad and Lier, where they were being held pending deportation.

Those centers were rendered unusable after being burned and vandalized and their occupants transferred to other asylum centers. Some of those involved in the fight at Haslemoen were among those transferred and now are likely to be transferred again.

Several other asylum seekers have gone on hunger strikes around the country, in the hopes that rejection of their own applications will be reversed. They’re being warned against the tactic by the Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers (NOAS).

Objecting to forced return
Amnesty International, meanwhile, has issued a report claiming that Norway can’t send rejected refugees back to Greece, where many entered the European area, because they’ll be imprisoned, also underaged asylum seekers. Amnesty claims the asylum seekers are routinely held in miserable conditions and denied access to judicial, social or medical help.

UDI reported this week that it’s cutting operations at several asylum centers around the country because demand has declined. Officials said they will eliminate accommodation for 177 underaged asylum seekers in six townships this autumn and winter.

The number of young asylum seekers arriving in Norway has declined by 66 percent so far this year, reducing the need for facilities to house them.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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