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Norway to accept its first EU refugees this week

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Norway to accept its first EU refugees this week
The first 20 refugees will arrive at the Østfold Arrival Center in Råde on Thursday. Photo: Jon Olav Nesvold / NTB scanpix
18:04 CEST+02:00
The first of the 1,500 refugees that Norway has promised the EU to accept are due to arrive in the country this week.
The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) confirmed to broadcaster NRK that the first 20 of the 1,500 refugees Norway voluntarily agreed to accept as part of the EU's relocation scheme will be flown into Norway from Italy this week.
 
The Norwegian parliament decided in December that the country's contribution to the EU programme, which as a non-member it is not obligated to participate in, would be 750 refugees this year and 750 in 2017. The relocate refugees are to come from Greece and Italy to ease the burden on those countries.
 
Although the agreements with Greece and Italy were finalized by April, none of the 1,500 refugees have set foot on Norwegian soil. But that is due to change this week. The first round of 20 refugees will be Eritreans, according to UDI. 
 
Agency spokeswoman Elisabeth Qvam, said that Norway has received documents on the relevant asylum seekers from the Italian authorities and that UDI is considering based on certain criteria.
 
“It's not as if we are sending people from UDI to pick amongst them,” she said. 
 
The first refugees will arrive from Italy to Østfold Arrival Center in Råde on Thursday and will be held there for two or three days for registration and health checks.
 
Although these asylum seekers are being directly delivered to Norway, no one is guaranteed asylum.
 
“They are treated like everyone else who comes to the country,” Østfold Arrival Center manager Helge Ekelund said. 
 
Earlier this spring, Integration Minister Sylvi Listhaug made it clear that Norway would not offer to accept any additional refugees from the EU. 
 
 
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