Syrian refugees almost entirely filled the temporary stay in the north of Norway. This was reported by Norway's NRK with reference to the Minister of Justice Anders Anundsen. All the shelters, hotels, and hospitals in the northern cities of Norway are already overcrowded by the citizens of Syria.
Meanwhile, the situation is evolving rapidly. In September, according to the Russian border department of the FSB in the Republic of Karelia, the Russian-Norwegian border was crossed by 239 citizens from the Middle East (including not only Syrians, but also Afghans, Iraqis, Iranians) to obtain refugee status in Norway.
However, the number has been growing since early October. According to BarentsObserver, 378 refugees transferred from Russia to Norway by the only checkpoint Borisoglebsk-Storskog between two countries last week. To date, more than 1 200 people from Russia applied for the asylum in Norway.
For comparison — 20 people requested asylum in Norway for the entire 2014. Norwegian immigration authorities believe that the number of refugees can reach 5 000 at the end of the year.
"They choose this path because it is the most secure one, — Norwegian journalist Amund Trellevik told "7x7". — It is much safer than by way of Europe. Syrians get a Russian visa, come to Moscow, then take a train or a plane to fly to Murmansk, and they get to the border from there. I talked to one guy, he paid 9,000 dollars to make the journey. He saved his money for months to get out of Syria. And he said that it was much safer than to sail to Europe and go to Germany or North from there."
According to Norwegian law, any citizen is able to claim for asylum now. At the same time expectations of rejection for the citizens of Syria are low. Wartime in the native country is a good reason for a refugee status.
"When people come into the country, they complete a particular form, and the government makes a decision. For example, if you arrive in Norway and apply for asylum for any reason, you would be allowed into the country for sure. But then the government will consider your request in detail and make a decision. This procedure may take several months, and if you do not have weighty grounds for asylum, you will be denied. But the war in Syria is the reason why the majority of Syrians are likely to receive refugee status in Norway," said Amund Trellevik.
But life in Syria is becoming more dangerous. According to the Syrian journalist Hamouda Almahmuda, over the years of war, nearly 12 million of the 21 million people left it.
"People can no longer live with such high prices (Syrian currency has lost 84% of its value over the past five years) — they can not pay for electricity, for fuel, or food. If you are an ordinary worker, you simply can not live in Syria. At the same time the country has the largest water and electricity shortage. It is a common situation when you have electricity only an hour or two a day, and sometimes even two or three days. Last year, the situation worsened. Also, the state has become to encourage people to military service in the army, — Hamoud said in an interview to "7x7". — And along with this whole situation in the country people leave their home country, move to Europe and realize that they are individuals — that they have rights and can live in good conditions. People mostly choose northern countries — Germany, Sweden, some of them — Norway. The reasons are simple — the benefits of the law for the refugees — the state provides them with accommodation, pay a monthly allowance during that time they learn the language and look for a job, the labor exchange also does it. Our people have never lived in such circumstances, this kind of life is almost gorgeous for them. More than half of the inhabitants of Syria have left the country. Many of them are people with higher education. For example, my brother — a neurosurgeon — is among the five best doctors in Syria, he was forced to go to Germany. 60% of residents of Aleppo had left Syria, 72% of the country's doctors have left the country, a million of homes was completely destroyed. This is a shocking statistic.
But the way to a luxury life across Russia is not without its difficulties. But people don't need a lot of money to get to Murmansk. The main difficulties start in the vicinity of the boundary. According to the rules, it is strictly forbidden to pass the border crossing point on foot. In recent months, local drivers refuse to transport aliens who do not have a Schengen visa. For non-observance of this prohibition, carriers face a fine of up to 10 thousand kroons (80 thousand rubles), a ban on entry to Norway to three years, and even imprisonment.
An alternative to this method of crossing the border is a bicycle. Even despite the fact that the refugees have to leave a two-wheeled vehicle at the Norwegian border crossing, and some do not even know how to ride it, this kind of border-crossing is popular. And last week it became known that the Russian border guards soften the terms of crossing the state border with Norway. Pregnant women and children were allowed to pass through the checkpoint on foot.
“We have noticed that some people fell from the bike while crossing the border. Not everyone can ride a bike, and there were cases when the children fell. The agreement between Russia and Norway says that there is a need to prevent the recurrence of injury to persons crossing the border," Norwegian border guard officer Roger Jacobsen told NRK.
Despite the tense situation on the border, as well as in the transit area of the refugees, many Norwegians are positive about visiting foreigners.
«Many Norwegians feel sorry for these people. Many believe that Norway should let them in and support. We are often asked — do we think about the possible consequences, such as the deterioration of the crime situation. But the incidents, crime is happening now, without refugees, and this is not a reason to not to let citizens from Syria to Norway," Amund Trellevik commented on the position.
However, the Norwegian authorities are seriously concerned about the growing excitement at the Russian-Norwegian border. Last week, the Minister of Justice of Norway Anders Anundsen said to NRK that the Minister wanted to send back to Russia those seeking for the asylum but not having a real need for protection in Norway. The reason is that some of the current asylum seekers have a residence permit in Russia.
"Many of them arrived to Russia many years before the war in Syria, — Anundsen said in an interview with NRK. — They have no need, they can live in safety in Russia. Our resources should be spent on those who really need it."
It is interesting that on the background of a difficult situation at the checkpoint in the Murmansk region it is an absolute tranquility on the Karelian-Finnish border. According to the border department of the FSB of Russia in the Republic of Karelia, one of the citizens of the Middle East did not want to get from Karelia to Finland.
«I do not know why, but no, there was no case. They are not interested in our section of the border at all. In Finland they come from Sweden, through the north-western border near the town of Tornio,” said the head of the press service of the Russian FSB border department of the Republic of Karelia Denis Rozalinsky.