Among the many challenges created by the recent of influx of refugees into Norway is an acute shortage of interpreters. Delays in processing asylum applications are compounded by a lack of qualified interpreters to enable communication between refugees and authorities.
Newspaper Aftenposten reports that immigration authorities, already overburdened by the thousands of refugees arriving every week, can’t find enough interpreters to meet demand. That, in turn, has reportedly led to unsystematic and incorrect use of those called on to help communicate.
Finance Minister Siv Jensen referred to the “pragmatic and economic challenges” facing the government as it proposed measures on Friday to deal with the refugee influx. Among them is the sudden and urgent need for interpreters in 114 languages, “especially in Arabic, Pashto, Oromo, Dari, Soranni, Badini and Kurmanji,” according to Liv Kolstad Zehouo, leader of the interpreters section of the state Integration and Diversity Directorate.
“The lack of interpreters is causing a real bottleneck in the system,” Zehouo told Aftenposten. Concerns are also rising over the use of non-certified interpreters including family members or friends who also often serve as informal interpreters when accompanying new arrivals in Norway on doctor visits, to schools or other meetings with the public sector.