Six months old Mahoora Iqbal from Somalia with her mother at a meeting about female circumcision in Oslo. Photo: Terje Bendiksby / Scanpix
Children from Somalia have been over-represented in the poverty statistics for years, but the proportion of children living in families with persistently low income has risen during the last year, Norwegian state broadcaster NRK has reported.
Other immigrant groups are also struggling, with more than half of poor children in Norway now living in immigrant households. Afghani and Iraqi groups also have high levels of poverty, yet none rival the Somalis.
A family in Norway is defined as poor if it lives on less than 60 percent of the median income, meaning few families classed as poor lack money for food. However, low income families cannot take part in society on an equal basis, with research showing that children from poor families take part in fewer leisure activities and spend less time with friends than those from average families.
”These kids would benefit from taking part in leisure activities from an integration perspective," Karin Gustavsen, a reseacher at Barn og unges samfunnslaboratorium, told NRK. "When children live in poverty, the obstacles to arenas that contribute to inclusion and integration are even greater. I fear this could lead to exclusion. It erodes the sense of community and solidarity."
A 2013 report from the Human Rights organisation Open Society confirms that Norwegian Somalis feel excluded. This is especially true for young Somalis who have a ”low sense of belonging”.
Employment rate among Somali immigrants, who in most cases have refugee backgrounds, is lower than among other immigrants.
”It’s connected to the amount of time they have resided in Norway, and Somalis have on average been residents quite briefly," Lars Ostby of Statistics Norway told NRK. "During the first few years in particular, refugees have relatively low employment rates. As time passes, this increases somewhat, but it does reach high levels for some of the groups we see in the poverty statistics."