Fewer Seek Asylum in Norway

Aftenposten (Oslo), Jan. 13

The number of asylum seekers coming to Norway dropped by nearly half last year. It was the biggest reduction among all European countries.

In 2003, just over 15,600 persons sought asylum in Norway. That number was down to less than 8,000 in 2004, reports newspaper Dagsavisen.

The government minister responsible for immigration policies, Erna Solberg, said she’s pleased with the decline. “We’re beginning to reach a level that’s more natural for Norway,” she said.

Solberg claims that Norway long had a “reputation” for being a country where it was easy for foreigners to obtain residence. She led a public information campaign, not least in countries including Bulgaria and other eastern European countries, that tried to drive home a message that was quite the opposite.

Solberg has been the target of criticism for tightening Norway’s asylum practices. Morten Tjessem of the Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers (NOAS), said the reduction would only be positive if the need for asylum was really reduced.

“There are many who still have a need to seek protection in Europe,” Tjessem told Dagsavisen. He thinks it’s simply become harder for them to prove their case.

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