Oslo university quits collaboration to assess age of asylum-seeking minors

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Oslo university quits collaboration to assess age of asylum-seeking minors
More than 5,500 asylum seekers claimed to be under the age of 18 in 2015, but only 320 in 2016. File picture: Tore Meek/ NTB scanpix

The University of Oslo has decided to bow out of its collaboration with Norwegian authorities to assess the age of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum, citing ethical reasons.


In the past two years, the university has earned almost 14 million kroner (€1.5 million) by taking orthodontic x-rays to help determine the age of more than 3,500 asylum seekers claiming to be under the age of 18.

The institution’s contract with the foreign ministry expires at the end of this month, but after the Norwegian Medical Association in December ruled the practice as unethical, the university has now decided against extending the collaboration.

“As a professional, I feel that – in line with the medical association –it is highly reprehensible and unethical to practice methods which, to such a large extent, are weak and deviate so much in their standards. This is especially important seeing the consequences are so great for those who are subject to these examinations,” Norwegian Pediatrician Ellen Annexstad was cited by news agency NTB as saying.

Norway has applied the age assessments practices for unaccompanied minors since 2005 after authorities discovered that a number of adult refugees had lied about their age to increase their chances of receiving asylum.

According to NTB, test results show that some 40 percent of asylum seekers who last year underwent the age assessment process were believed to be 20 years or older.

The number of minors seeking asylum in Norway has decreased drastically in the past 12 months, falling from 5,500 in 2015, to just 320 in 2016. The largest group of asylum-seeking minors, representing about a third of the total, were from Afghanistan.


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