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Number of asylum centres in Norway dropping as refugee flow slows to trickle

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Number of asylum centres in Norway dropping as refugee flow slows to trickle
Bjørnebekk asylum centre in 2016. File photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix
17:46 CEST+02:00
Asylum centres in Norway are closing as the number of refugees reaching the country continues to decrease.

The Hallingdal district in Buskerud County, for example, has seen the number of asylum centres drop from eight to two over the last year, reports broadcaster NRK.

“It is difficult because a close relationship has been forged here... they have contact with the local community. The only safe thing they have is their bed, and now we are taking the beds from them,” Gry Herland, head of the Hemsedal asylum centre, told NRK.

Planned reduction of asylum facilities in Hemsedal means that 15 underage asylum seekers will have to move once school holidays begin.

The number of people living at the centre in Hemsedal is to be reduced to 130 by the summer – down from a peak of 600 at four different facilities in the town at the height of the refugee flow in 2015, reports NRK.

READ ALSO: Asylum seeker arrivals in Norway 'lowest since 1997'

A secondary aspect of the closures is a loss of jobs.

“Everyone that works here has been given their notice. This is a region that has seasonal work, so it is hard to find a new job during the summer,” said Herland.

In Gol, another town in Buskerud, a state-run asylum centre with 59 residents will close on July 15th.

“Such is life in the asylum area, almost no asylum seekers are coming now,” said Gol centre manager Vita Simon to NRK.

Centres for unaccompanied minors also face an uncertain future, reports NRK.

“It is the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) that decides how long they can stay here for,” Tore Fauske Haugen, leader of the state asylum centre at Hol, said.

Staff at the centre must be given three months’ notice of redundancy. While no such notice has yet been received, the number of arrivals is considerably lower than in 2015 and 2016, says Haugen.

“On the 1st January 2016, 32,000 asylum seekers lived at asylum centres in Norway. On 1st January 2017 it was 14,500. Today it is 9,924. If that trend continues it will be fewer still by the end of the year which presumably also means fewer centres,” he said. 

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