Norway launches 'anti-refugee' Facebook page

The Local Norway
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Norway launches 'anti-refugee' Facebook page
The cover picture for the Justice Ministry site. Photo: Facebook/Ministry of Justice

Norway's government has taken its campaign to scare away potential asylum seekers onto Facebook, launching a new page, 'Stricter Asylum regulations in Norway', on Friday.


In its first post on Friday afternoon, the page trumpeted the government’s plans to:
  • slash benefits for asylum seekers by 20 percent;
  • increase the wait for permanent residency from three to five years;
  • send people home if situations improve in their home countries;
  • and work with the Iraqi and Eritrean authorities to send asylum seekers back to those countries.
“It’s not exactly ‘Welcome to Norway’,” admitted Jøran Kallmyr, a state secretary in the Ministry of Justice appointed by the anti-immigration Progress Party. “We want to provide accurate and sober information.” 
The Facebook page follows the launch of the country's negative advertising campaign over Twitter the previous Friday. That was done with a warning message sent out by by Norway’s Directorate of Immigration (UDI) informing Afghan citizens crossing the country’s northern border with Russia that they risked being returned to Kabul. 
The message has been followed up over last week with similar Tweets in English and in Russian. 
Kallmyr said the information on the Facebook Page would soon be translated into Pashto and Dari. 
The tough social media message comes as around 50 to 60 asylum seekers housed at an asylum centre in Sarpsborg, south of Oslo, launched a protest against the 'deplorable conditions' at the centre. 
"We do not get enough food, we are going hungry," one of the demonstrators told NRK reporter Marianne Løkkevik Ekeberg on Saturday night. 
Mazyar Keshvari, the immigration spokesman for the populist Progress Party, said that these "ungrateful" asylum seekers should be repatriated. 
He said their complaints made a mockery of those fleeing civil war and oppression across the world. 
"In this situation,  some of the luckiest people, who have been provided in Norway with food, drink, clothing and shelter at taxpayers' expense, are protesting the quality of the food and the internet speed on reception," he said.
"These ungrateful people should immediately get out of the country, freeing capacity for those who need security and protection." 
Norway is not the first country in the region to have attempted to reduce numbers of asylum seekers using negative advertising. 
Denmark’s foreign ministry in September published advertisements in four Lebanese newspapers warning Syrian refugees that the country had recently halved the level of benefits received by refugees. 
The strategy appears to have had some success. Of the 13,000 refugees who passed through Denmark in September, only 1,500 applied for asylum.



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