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Progress to block 10,000 refugee plan: Jensen

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Progress to block 10,000 refugee plan: Jensen
Progress party leader and finance minister Siv Jensen on the stage on Sunday. Photo: Vidar Ruud / NTB scanpix
11:28 CEST+02:00
The leader of Norway's populist Progress party has pledged to block plans for Norway to take up to 10,000 refugees from Syria over the next two years, arguing that it is more efficient to find homes for them in neighbouring countries.
“Norway should not take on tasks that we can not handle. That’s why Progress is saying ‘no’ to accepting 10,000 quota refugees and ‘yes’ to increasing aid to neighbouring countries,” Siv Jensen said to strong applause at the party’s annual conference on Sunday. 
 
Labour party leader Jonas Gahr Støre announced at his party’s annual conference, that his party planned to campaign in the parliament for Norway to agree to take 5,000 Syrian refugees this year and another 5,000 in 2016. 
 
Labour already has the backing of the Left Party, and hopes that the Christian Democrats will also back the proposal at its conference this coming weekend. 
 
Jensen, who also serves as finance minister in the country’s coalition government, cited figures showing that settling just 1,000 new Syrian refugees in Norway would cost a prohibitive one billion kroner ($130m). 
 
“That means that instead of settling a refugee in Norway, we can help 14 refugees in camps,” she said.
 
Christian Tybring-Gjedde, one of the party's most outspoken figures on immigration, criticised Jensen for not going further in her speech, showing the strength of feeling within the party’s grass roots. 
 
“We want to have zero,” he said. “We don’t want to have 9999, we don’t want two. We want to have zero. We shouldn’t accept Støre’s premise, and sit in a room and say, ‘we will not accept your 10,000’ but agree on 6000’,” he warned.
 
On Tuesday, parliamentarians from all Norway’s major party’s will hold a meeting initiated by parliamentary leader of Conservative party where they will discuss who many refugees Norway should accept, initiated by Trond Helleland, the parliamentary leader of Conservative party. 
 
Next week, when Norway’s government announces amendments to its 2015 budget, Labour and other parties will be keen to see whether any allowances have been made for accepting increasing numbers of refugees. 
 
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