The numbers of asylum seekers crossing borders into Norway dipped for the first time in a month last week. Officials claim it’s too early to make any conclusions, however, about longer-term trends.
State immigration agency UDI (Utlendingsdirectoratet) reported new figures on Monday regarding asylum seekers registered in Norway for the week ending November 22. A total of 2,108 were registered by Sunday, down from 2,502 the week before and 2,452 the week before that.
Most still from Syria
The most came from Syria, with the 699 registered last week down from 747 in the week ending November 15 but slightly up from the 692 who came in the week ending November 8.
The next-largest group of asylum seekers came from Afghanistan, and the decline was marked. UDI reported 606 Afghan asylum seekers last week, down from 707 in the week ending November 15 and 899 in the week ending November 8.
A total of 203 asylum seekers were registered last week from Iraq, compared to 270 the week before, and the next-largest groups were from Iran (155) and Pakistan (33). Another 412 people sought asylum in Norway from other countries.
While the total number of asylum seekers declined, the number of unaccompanied minors arriving in Norway increased to 345, with 283 of them coming from Afghanistan.
Biggest decline in those from Russia
The biggest decline was in the number of asylum seekers arriving over Norway’s northern border to Russia last week. The Storskog border station in Finnmark reported 492 arriving in Norway, down from 796 the week before and 1,113 in the record week before that.
The police chief in Finnmark who’s been dealing with the influx via the so-called “Arctic Route,” Ellen Katrine Hætta, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), that she thinks it’s too early to conclude that the trend has shifted. Even though the Norwegian government has taken steps to discourage people who don’t qualify for asylum from crossing the border to Norway, Hætta can’t claim they’re having an effect yet.
“There were fewer arrivals all over the country, but it’s too early to conclude because we see that there are large variations in the arrival numbers day by day,” Hætta told NRK.
As of Monday, a total of 30,485 asylum seekers were living in state-supported asylum centers, more than double the number in January. Of them, a total of 2,277 were unaccompanied minors, compared to just 293 at the beginning of this year.