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Norway army ready for refugee 'mass arrival'

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Norway army ready for refugee 'mass arrival'
Syrian refugees wait under a sign at Malmö Central Station to receive bus and train tickets for Oslo. Photo: The Local Norway
21:14 CEST+02:00
The Norwegian armed forces have prepared barracks, transportation and sleeping bags for 3,000 refugees in preparation for "mass arrival".

The Ministry of Defence said that it would not house refugees in barracks where there is military activity, but has identified four sites that would be suitable for refugee accommodation.

The Nordic countries have seen a vast increase in the number of refugees arriving in recent months, , with many fleeing the ongoing civil war in Syria. 

Yesterday, more than 1,000 refugees arrived in Denmark, with more than 200 then travelling on foot along the main motorway to Copenhagen in a bid to reach Sweden, which has a more generous asylum policy regarding refugees from the Syrian war.

Last night and today, hundreds of refugees have arrived in the Swedish border city of Malmö, where volunteers at the Central Station were preparing to send several refugees to Oslo via Gothenburg. 

Norway is bracing itself for a large influx of refugees, as the number of people leaving Syria has increased by at least 40 percent this year.

According to the Ministry of Defence, military resources will only be used as a last resort if civilian capacity has been exhausted, something which seems to be starting to occur. 

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) on Monday asked the Red Cross to provide beds for refugees, as they did not have space for the recent arrivals. Norwegian authorities have never asked the organisation for assistance with housing refugees before.

"This means that those who cannot get a room in a hotel, at a camp site, or a refugee centre don't need to sleep on the street or at the immigration office at Tøyen," Åsne Havnelid of the Red Cross told Norway's Aftenposten newspaper.

"They will get a hot meal, sleep in a bed, and feel safe. It is the responsibility of the authorities to care for the refugees, but we are happy to help in this emergency."

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