Hundreds of Ethiopian asylum seekers and around 450 children that have been born as well as raised in Norway will have to leave because of government immigration policy.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg made the announcement about deportation during his speech at the Labour Party’s annual meeting in Oslo.
“Our concern is to have a just refugee and asylum policy. This means people who are persecuted shall stay, whilst those who are not shall leave.”
“Regard for children shall be emphasised, but it is not politicians who are to decide individual cases, it is the UDI (Directorate of Immigration) and the UNE (Immigration Appeals Board). Our task is to make laws and regulations,” he said.
Many Labour Party representatives from across the country want to see the rules relaxed for the children’s best interests, however.
Some 450 children in Norway’s asylum seeker reception centres have been living in asylum seeker reception centres for three or more years, a quarter were born there. Some attend school, have Norwegian friends, and speak Norwegian.
The government’s recent return agreement with Ethiopia has received broad criticism from tri-partite coalition and opposition Parties.
Leading Norwegian writers Ingvar Ambjørnsen and Jostein Gaarder have joined the battle to bring about a political change-of-heart regarding the children. The latest prominent Norwegian author to speak out is Jan Kjerstad.
Having heard arguments that deportation is meant as a preventative measure, he says, “It is possible this is the right thing to do seen from a bureaucratic point of view, which takes regulations into account.”
“Nevertheless, in the big picture, this is an ethical act for which there is only one word: shame.”
Meanwhile, it has also been revealed that Norway doubled its aid to Ethiopia a month before the deal was made. Many other paperless Ethiopians are also living in Norway amongst the population and used to pay taxes to the state until their tax card was taken away. Some had a job until even as recently as the beginning of this month.
Authorities have denied that there is a connection between the agreement and increased aid, but Ann-Magrit Austenå from the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers said, “I do not think it is a coincidence that the return agreement with Ethiopia has come into effect at the same time we see an increase in the flow of aid.”
Other countries, including Sweden, have recently reduced the amount of aid given to the country.