Why has Oslo taken in a low number of Ukrainian refugees?

Norwegian capital Oslo has the capacity to take in thousands of refugees from Ukraine but has so far only received 31 arrivals from state authorities, according to a report.

Ukrainian refugees in romania
Ukrainian refugees near the border with Romania earlier this month. Authorities in Norwegian capital Oslo want the Nordic country's central agencies to speed up the resettlement process. Photo: Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP

Although the Oslo city government quickly arranged 2,000 available places for Ukrainian refugees to be accommodated in the city shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, only a small number have so far been placed in the city by central authorities, local media Vårt Oslo reports.

The low number is not a result of a lack of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Norway in general, with 14,536 persons from Ukraine having so far applied for asylum in the country according to recent data from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

A elected official from the Oslo city government said in comments reported by Vårt Oslo that the low number was related to a backlog at the Directorate of Integration and Diversity (Integrerings- og mangfoldsdirektoratet, IMDi).

“We have received 31 Ukrainian refugees who must be housed,” the city council’s deputy deputy leader and head of finance Einar Wilhelmsen told Vårt Oslo.

“We have been quite frustrated about how slowly it’s going. The reason it’s going slowly is that refugees must be registered while they are still at asylum centres,” he said.

Part of the registration process conducted by IMDi includes asking refugees three questions, according to Wilhelmsen’s comments to the media.

“I have now found out what the three questions are: Do you have significant health problems, do you have relations or a network in Norway that must be taken into consideration; and do you have pets,” he said.

IMDi last week acknowledged the slow progress of registrations and distribution to municipalities for resettlement of refugees from Ukraine. The agency also stressed that a number of bottlenecks had now been resolved.

“We expect 250-400 refugees to be registered each day. We then expect a clear increase in resettlements,” the IMDi director, Libe Rieber-Mohn, said last week according to media Kommunal Rapport.

The agency said capacity has been increased and arrival questionnaires simplified.

But Wilhelmsen called for further streamlining of the process.

“Registration of health issues is not hugely relevant for people who are resettled in Oslo. We have good health services and a compact municipality, so it’s not so important,” he said to Vårt Oslo.

“Having a network elsewhere can be important, but shouldn’t be the reason for delaying resettlement of Ukrainian refugees,” he said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.