More refugees apply for asylum

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Norway’s immigration agency UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet) has reported a 17 percent increase in the number of persons seeking asylum in Norway so far this year. Norway, though, still receives less than a quarter of those seeking asylum in Sweden.

A total of 4,968 refugees sought asylum in Norway during the first six months of the year, compared to 4,262 last year. The largest number, 952, came from Somalia, but that was down 11 percent from last year, when 1,069 arrived, according to UDI.

The next largest group came from Eritrea, with more than double the number of refugees seeking asylum in Norway: 779, compared to 349 last year.

There was a 22 percent decline in the number of refugees coming from Afghanistan, 361, while the numbers from Sudan and Nigeria more than doubled, to 328 and 326 respectively.

Far fewer than in Sweden
Sweden, meanwhile, has received applications from 18,855 asylum seekers, of whom 4,750 were from Syria. That compares to just 263 Syrians seeking asylum in Norway even though Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide has expressed support for Syrian refugees and appealed to other countries to accept more Syrian refugees fleeing the country’s civil war.

UDI also announced plans for four new asylum centers to house refugees,and stressed efforts to make existing centers more secure, especially for families with small children. A transit center in Oslo has been among those plagued by illegal occupants, with police called on again this week to seize several and expel others.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that around 50 foreigners linked to narcotics sales have been staying at the center. Police arrested seven on Tuesday and have expelled 44 persons in the past two weeks, mostly from West Africa. Police also seized small quantities of drugs during the raid on the Refstad asylum center in Oslo’s Bjerke district.

“We believe that some foreign criminals have misused the center to carry out more crimes,” Hans Halvorsen of the Oslo Police District told NRK. “This has created insecurity for those who rightfully are living there.”

Of the 35 men seized at the center two weeks ago, five were immediately deported. Five others await deportation, because their asylum applications were rejected.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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