Norway child champion calls for refugee camps

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Coming to Norway? Zaatari refugee camp in Syria. Photo: US State Department
22:18 CEST+02:00
Norway's children's ombudsman has called for the country to set up refugee camps, as the present poor level of refugee reception is actively harming child asylum seekers.

"The humanitarian situation is now so precarious, especially for minors, that we need to consider serious measures to remedy the situation," Anne Lindboe told Norway's state broadcaster NRK.

"We have great charities here in Norway that have a good tools to help refugees outside Norway," Lindboe said. "Now, I believe that we need to work with the government and consider whether we should establish refugee camps here at home." 

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) has struggled to house refugees as they arrive in Norway, and pictures published in the media of refugees forced to sleep on the ground outside the offices of the Police Immigration Service in Tøyen have caused a minor scandal. 

Several politicians and charities have asked the government to take urgent action. 

"The current situation is totally unacceptable, and it is particularly bad because this did not come as a surprise to anyone,"  Karin Andersen of the Socialist Left Party told Norway's Aftenposten newspaper. "Sick people and children still sit outside in the autumn weather. Only volunteers make sure that the situation does not go completely wrong." 

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Lindboe argues that the government must work together with civil society. 
"With so many arriving here and with such a poor reception apparatus in place, I think that the government must press the panic button and bring together all the resources we have in Norway." 

The Norwegian government is opening a new reception centre in Oslo as Tøyen can no longer deal with the number of refugees.

"We have known that the the Police Immigration Service reception centre at Tøyen is not working for a long time, and we have been working to find a new place to register newly arrived asylum seekers," Jørgen Kallmyr of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security told NRK.

Lindboe says that the problems run deeper than just a swift registration process.
"People need food, a place to sleep, they need safety, they need care, they need someone to give them information in their own language. To ensure that everyone is received in a good way, refugee camps many be the solution," she said.

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