The Norwegian government’s decision to impose stricter border controls this week got off to a relatively smooth start on Thursday. On Friday, though, a couple of asylum seekers refused to be sent back to Russia, and sat down on the border in protest.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Friday afternoon that both protesters were eventually arrested and taken into custody. The Independent Barents Observer had earlier reported that police at the border crossing at Storskog couldn’t let the asylum seekers keep sitting on the border itself, in freezing temperatures.
Thomas Nilsen of The Independent Barents Observer reported that Russia had refused to take the two asylum seekers back. After discussions between the Norwegian and Russian border commissioners, the Norwegians took in the two asylum seekers, but efforts were to continue to return them to Russia.
Police at border crossings elsewhere around Norway reported few if any problems as they started carrying out orders to check passports and visas of everyone arriving in Norway, by ferry, train, airlines or vehicles. There were some delays as cars rolled off ferries from Denmark and Germany in Oslo, but no complaints. There were no traffic jams at the busiest border crossing on the E6 highway at Svinesund either.
Only four asylum seekers were turned away from boarding a ferry in Denmark bound for Norway. No one was caught in Norway with invalid travel documents. The heightened border controls are due to continue for at least 10 days, aimed at stemming the influx of immigrants who don’t qualify for asylum.