Thousands of refugees whose applications for asylum in Norway have been approved remain stuck in asylum centers. Immigration officials haven’t been able to resettle them in new homes, meaning they must wait even longer before they can start their new lives in Norway.
“I want to thank UDI (Norway’s immigration agency) for giving me residence permission!” Ali Kofi from Somalia, who recently was granted asylum, told newspaper Aftenposten on Sunday. “But at the asylum center I feel like I’m in prison. I need to integrate. I want to learn Norwegian. I want to work. I don’t just want to sit around at the center.”
Lack of settlement assistance
Ali Kofi is just one of around 4,700 refugees who have won asylum in Norway but haven’t been resettled. The problem is a lack of townships willing or able to take them in and provide them with the accommodation and assistance they need before they can become self-sufficient.
The state directorate in charge of integration, IMDi, has asked 378 townships all over the country to provide homes for as many as 28,000 refugees over the next three years. With the deadline for their response looming this month, only a quarter of the townships have replied positively so far, reports Aftenposten.
The challenge for the townships is having the funds and housing available. Many municipalities say they simply lack the money to commit to housing, training and otherwise supporting refugees until they can support themselves.
More state funding needed
Nina Gran of the nationwide organization for the townships, KS, said they need more money from the state to help fund resettlement expenses. Funds are especially needed to build new housing units.
UDI itself has sharpened routines and is now able to make quicker decisions on asylum applications. The townships have been able to keep up, and Gran doesn’t want them to be forced to take in refugees without the programs needed to resettle and integrate them.
Ali Kofi says he worked in a café and with the sale and purchase of medicine before he escaped from recruitment into the militia and terrorist organization Al-Shabaab. He’s eager to be put to work and “get a normal life.” Six months have passed since he was granted asylum. IMDi hopes it won’t take another six months to get him settled, and Gran thinks more townships, especially those eager to reverse depopulation, will respond positively to IMDi’s request by the end of the month.