According to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (Utlendingsdirektoratet, UDI), the number of asylum seekers crossing Norway’s borders is down to levels not seen since the 1990’s.
After a dire year thus far in terms of migrant arrivals in Europe, it brings us at Defend Europa great pleasure to be able to report on these uplifting figures.
So far this year, just 1,114 ordinary asylum seekers have crossed the Nordic nation’s borders, a decrease of nearly a third from the same period last year.
The number of unaccompanied ‘child’ refugees entering the country has also dropped by 32.5%, with just 110 asylum seekers of this category entering Norway so far this year.
The UDI has revised its projections from the 10,000 it had envisaged last year, to just 3,000 for the entirety of 2017.
In addition to the UDI scaling back its operations, the Norwegian authorities are preparing to close 41 asylum detention centres across the country. Currently, 8,700 with asylum status live in 112 centres in various locations around the country.
However, we must not forget that over 31,000 ‘refugees‘ arrived in Norway in 2015, with half of these already having their applications processed.
At the beginning of 2015, 15.6% (815,000) of Norway’s 5.1 million population were of a migratory background. This figure will likely be greater thanks to the so-called refugee crisis that ensued as the year progressed.
Legal, non-refugee immigration to Norway is a big problem, therefore we cannot pretend that the reduction in refugee numbers is the victory we want, but it is a small victory nonetheless.
One issue with closing asylum detention centres however is the lack of flexibility it offers the authorities should circumstances change, say the UDI.
For example, if the influx of asylum seekers from Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia were to increase, more would be likely to seek asylum in Norway. This could create a situation whereby the authorities cannot keep track of who is and isn’t in the country.
Similarly, this loss of infrastructure will make it more difficult for the authorities to track and deport those who’s claims have been rejected.
Nevertheless, we can remain strengthened by the reduction in asylum figures to Norway, for this could potentially mark the turning point in Northern Europe.