The asylum seekers suspected of being prostituted were between the ages of 15 and 18, according to VG.
“There could be more unreported cases when it comes to the number of possible victims of human trafficking – the numbers we have are based on manual reports. Many unaccompanied minor asylum seekers came to Norway last autumn and so far this year, we have not registered any reports that unaccompanied minor asylum seekers in the centres have prostituted themselves,” Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) press spokesman John Olav said.
A recent report from the Fafo Research Foundation described how the staff of a Norwegian asylum centre were helpless witnesses to a 16-year-old girl being forced to visit the nearest town to sell sex. UDI had no authority to take enforcement action and Child Protection Services (CPS) did not intervene.
“If 16-year-olds are prostituting themselves, CPS should take action, precisely because UDI is unable to. The local child welfare office must consider taking [the victim into] protective custody,” Guri Tyldum, one of the researchers behind the Fafo report, said.
Earlier this month, asylum centres in Denmark and Sweden also raised alarms about the possible prostitution of underage asylum seekers. At Center Sandholm, Denmark’s largest asylum centre, staff reported that young boys would often “receive a phone call, take off for a few hours and then come back with designer clothes.”
“We are worried about where the boys are getting the money,” Jannich Bisp, a supervisor at the centre, told Danish newspaper Berlingske.
The concerns at Center Sandholm, located some 30 kilometres north of Copenhagen, came to light after the Swedish newspaper Sydsvenkan reported similar stories about refugee children at the Aleris Asylum Center in Malmö. There too officials said that the young asylum seekers would get phone calls, disappear for a few hours and then return with money or new clothes.