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Memo: Norway 'not mentally prepared' for refugees' impact

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Asylum seekers in Stavanger. Photo: Carina Johansen / NTB Scanpix
10:03 CET+01:00
An internal memo from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs warns that the Storskog border crossing is likely to see another wave of arriving refugees within months.
Norway’s Storskog border crossing has been relatively quiet since the Nordic nation announced that it would begin immediately rejecting asylum seekers who had been legally residing in Russia. But the slowdown may just be the calm before the storm, according to an internal memo from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
 
The memo, which was obtained by VG, warns that a “a perfect political storm” is likely to hit Europe within the next six months, bringing with it increased activity at Norway’s Arctic border. 
 
“The dynamics of the continent and the closure of the Balkan routes can quickly result in increased pressure on Storskog or Finland and the Baltics in the coming months,” the confidential memo said. 
 
It goes on to warn that Norwegians may not be fully prepared for the consequences of further breakdowns in European cooperation. 
 
“The Norwegian psyche is likely not mentally prepared for the full gravity of the migration crisis. That also applies to its costs and impacts on other budget and policy areas. It may be difficult to avoid higher unemployment and increased social welfare costs in 2017,” the memo stated. 
 
VG reported that the memo paints a dire picture of the current state of affairs in Europe, referencing “political polarization and a strengthening of extreme forces” as well as “splits between north and south and east and west in the EU [and] nationalistic and anti-EU policies in the government offices of key countries in Eastern Europe”. 
 
The memo also warns that new terror attacks are likely and that the refugee crisis has hit the point where “the limit for what residents and authorities in European countries can absorb is either already reached or imminent”. Germany and Sweden, the two countries that have accepted the most refugees, are “about to hit the wall”, the memo said. 

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Foreign Minister Børge Brende declined to comment on the contents of the memo, and a ministry official told VG that it was “an internal working document that has neither been reviewed or approved”. 
 
The memo comes to light as the Norwegian parliament begins renewed discussions on a comprehensive asylum and immigration package. 

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