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Asylum claims soar by 80 percent in Norway

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Asylum claims soar by 80 percent in Norway
Syrian refugees wait under a sign at Malmö Central Station to receive bus and train tickets for Oslo. Photo: The Local Norway
22:29 CEST+02:00
The number of people applying for asylum for the first time in Norway shot up by 81 percent between April and June, figures released by the Brussels statistics authority Eurostat showed on Friday.
The increase was the steepest rise experienced by any European country except Latvia and The Netherlands, who say asylum applications grow by 123 percent and 159 percent respectively. 
 
Norway's neighbours, Finland and Denmark, also saw bigger increases of 67 percent and 66 percent respectively, while Sweden's applications rose by 25 percent. 
 
The oil rich Nordic nation is coming under increasing pressure to accept more refugees, with even the 2,760 applications received over the last three months only adding up to 534 per head of population, compared to 1,467 per head received by the neighbouring Swedes, and 997 in Germany.
  
According to the Eurostat data, Hungary now experiences the largest number of asylum seekers relative to its population, at 3,317 per million inhabitants, followed by Austria at 2,026. 
 
The Norwegian Police on Friday said that the Police Immigration Service (PU) was shortly to double its estimate of the total number of asylum seekers coming to Norway this year to around 20,000, something it described as “a significant challenge”. 
 
The Police Directorate said that it planned to publish a new contingency plan for refugees by next week, and said in the event of a “mass arrival”, it would consider imposing extraordinary border controls and intensified border patrolling, amongst other measures.  
 
The 28 members of the European Union remain severely divided over an EU plan for compulsory quotas which would enable the fair and equitable distribution of 120,000 refugees.
 
Hungary and Slovakia are reported to be blocking the plan, although several other states, mostly in the east, have also opposed the quota system.
 
Both France and Sweden have said that their borders will remain open for the foreseeable future, despite neighbouring countries including Germany and Finland increasing checks on people arriving on their soil from elsewhere in the European Union.
 
The figures released on Friday do not take into account the surge in refugees that have arrived in Scandinavia this month.
 
Earlier in the week separate statistics showed that 5,200 were registered in just seven days in Sweden, the highest number since June 1992 when around 5,000 were registered in a week during the Bosnian war.
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