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Migrants flee Norway centre to avoid return to Russia

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The asylum seekers left the centre when word spread that they were to be sent back over the border at Storskog. Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix
14:53 CET+01:00
Around 40 people have fled from the Oscarsgata asylum centre in Vadsø out of fear that they were set to be sent back to Russia.
“It's both Syrians and Afghans. Thus far, we have reached a figure of 40 after going around and counting,” the centre's deputy leader, Hilde Meyer, told VG. 
 
The centre has room for 280 people. According to Meyer, it is predominately young, single men who have disappeared. 
 
“They left because they heard that the police had come to the centre and they are afraid. We haven't slept well these past few months because we think the police can come at any moment and take us,” an unnamed asylum seeker at the centre told broadcaster NRK. 
 
Over the weekend, around 70 people were brought  from other asylum centres to Ankomstsenter Finnmark in Sør-Varanger after Norwegian and Russian authorities agreed that Norway could send rejected asylum seekers back over the border via bus. 
 
The asylum seekers said on Monday that they had started a hunger strike in protest of their treatment and what they say is a lack of communication. 
 
On Tuesday, TV2 reported that a significant number of asylum seekers in Finnmark had been told to prepare for return to Russia and Barents Observer wrote that between 60 and 70 asylum seekers were to be transported by bus to Murmansk. 
 

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Norway announced in November that migrants who had been living legally in Russia, or entered Russia legally, would be denied asylum and returned to Russia. 
 
Since then, the flow of migrants and refugees crossing the border at Storskog has slowed to a trickle. 
 

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