Nearly all the foreigners arrested on narcotics charges by police in Oslo have either been residing illegally in Norway or have had asylum applications rejected. Criminals are also regularly infiltrating asylum centers in Norway, reports newspaper Aftenposten.
The recent eviction in the middle of the night of a man from the Refstad asylum center in the Løren district of Oslo was just one example of what police and those running the asylum center must deal with on a regular basis, according to Aftenposten. He was one of around 30 intruders who are discovered at the center on a weekly basis. Most are involved in the narcotics trade and other crimes in Oslo.
Abusing the system
A review conducted by Aftenposten of registered crimes carried out by asylum seekers shows that relatively few of the 15,798 persons now seeking refuge in Norway resort to crime. Those who do, however, constitute a major drain on the resources of both the police and the immigration officials in charge of Norway’s asylum system.
They also seem to be overrepresented in the crime statistics. Aftenposten reported that of the 394 Nigerians who have sought asylum in Norway so far this year, most are men and many of them are now “highly visible” in the Norwegian capital’s drug trade.
“They misuse the asylum institution to carry out crimes,” said one police source who is familiar with the drug trade and the involvement in it of men who claim to be refugees. Frode Forfang, director of the immigration agency UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet), confirms that most of the foreigners caught dealing drugs are either rejected refugees or have been in the country illegally without seeking asylum.
He adds that “the vast majority who are arrested don’t qualify for asylum. We work quite closely with the police on this. Those with criminal records are also a priority for deportations.” Aftenposten reported that 530 Nigerians were deported last year, and another 299 so far this year. At least a third had criminal convictions, and their numbers were second only to deported Romanians.
According to the police, many of the Nigerians turning up in Norway seem to know each other, and organize themselves in groups of four to six persons in Oslo. Working from asylum centers all over Norway, they have infiltrated a steadily larger portion of the drug trade in the southeastern portion of the country (Østlandet).
When Oslo police raided the asylum center at Refstad this past summer, more than 50 persons were arrested for possession of narcotics, mostly men from Nigeria. The raid occurred after complaints of noise and discontent at the center, and that several people were living here illegally.
Officials at the center have requested, and received, more help and more security guards. “Large numbers of asylum seekers ally themselves with persons in the narcotics trade in Oslo and draw them to the center as well,” Tove Gilje, leader of the Refstad center, wrote in a recent letter to immigration authorities. “These intruders are often criminals who get in with the help of residents,” she added, and they use the center to sleep, stash drugs and even get into the canteen to eat. They don’t adhere to any of the rules and regulations at the center, and simply docking their small cash allowance has no effect on them, she wrote.
Gilje asked for more funding to clean up after them and to maintain order, especially since many are aggressive and “ruin things” for the legitimate, law-abiding asylum seekers hoping to win refuge in Norway. Extra security guards have been hired to patrol the center, especially at night.
“Now we have a better overview, since we have more people, but we still can’t check everyone going in and out of the center,” Gilje told Aftenposten. Those arrested often return in matter of days. “They know how to get in, through windows and back doors,” she said.