Norway Offers Free Flights and Cash for Refugees to Leave Country

Norway, Refugees
Refugees and migrants gather near a check point on the Russian-Norwegian border outside Nickel (Nikel) settlement in Murmansk region, Russia, October 30, 2015. |

Norway's conservative government is now offering refugees seeking asylum there a free flight home plus more than $9,000 in cash if they choose to go back to their home country.

And the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration told government broadcaster NRK that more than 900 asylum seekers facing long family reunification waiting times, barriers to taking work and starting education programs, have already opted to take the offer and run.

"They thought that when they came to Norway they would get protection rather quickly. And that they would have the opportunity to work or take an education — and maybe even to get their family to Norway," said Katinka Hartmann, head of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration's (Utlendingsdirektoratet - UDI) return unit.

The UDI says a family with two children can receive the equivalent of $9,300 or 8,600 euros as well as having their airline tickets bought by the state to support their decision to leave.

The number of applications for asylum is on the rise, according to the Norwegian division of the International Organization for Migration, which processes the requests.

In late November the Norwegian government announced that they had introduced temporary border controls to keep refugees from entering the country.

"This is a measure to gain better control of the influx of refugees," Norway's Minister of Justice and Public Security, Anders Anundsen, said.

"We are imposing temporary border controls for the ferry routes between Norway and the European continent. Territorial control in frontier areas will also be further tightened. The purpose is to better be able to prevent the entry of people who do not have the required travel documents to enter Norway," he added.

The controls appear to have abated the influx of refugees. As on Monday, the UDI announced that they had fewer asylum applications last week. Whether or not the effect of the newly introduced border measures will last will be seen as time goes by, according to UDI Director Frode Forfang.

The government noted that in October and November they had 1,000 asylum seekers every week coming across the border from Russia.

UDI's Hartmann said as time goes by it might also become difficult for the country to maintain the level of cash incentives they have introduced to help families leave Norway.

"It could be appropriate to cut funding for some groups and it could also be appropriate to temporarily offer more in support to other groups," Hartmann said.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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