U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Norway
|Publisher||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|
|Publication Date||10 June 2002|
|Cite as||United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2002 - Norway , 10 June 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3d04c15028.html [accessed 13 October 2015]|
Norway hosted more than 13,000 refugees and asylum seekers at the end of 2001. These included 292 persons granted asylum, about 4,000 persons issued residence permits on humanitarian grounds, about 1,270 refugees resettled in Norway during the year, and approximately 7,560 asylum seekers with pending asylum claims.
During the year, 14,782 persons submitted asylum applications in Norway, an increase of 36 percent over the previous year and the highest number of applications ever received in a single year. Significant numbers of asylum seekers arrived from the Russian Federation (1,320), Croatia (1,216), Somalia (1,080), Iraq (1,056), Ukraine (1,027), and Bulgaria (1,000).
In 2001, out of 13,304 decisions, the Directorate for Immigration (UDI) granted refugee status to 292 persons, about 2 percent.
The UDI also granted residence permits on humanitarian grounds to 4,036 persons, about 31 percent of all cases decided in 2001. Residence permits are valid for one year and may be renewed annually. The UDI grants permanent residence status to an applicant after three years of temporary residence.
The UDI rejected 8,976 asylum applications during the year, accounting for about 69 percent of all decisions. According to the UDI, the high rejection rate reflected the large number of claims received from nationals of Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria and Ukraine, that are largely considered safe.
During 2001, Norway admitted 1,269 refugees referred by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and resettled from abroad.
The Aliens Law of 1988 and the Aliens Decree of 1990 govern Norway's asylum procedure. Police conduct the initial interviews of asylum seekers, who receive limited legal assistance in filing their applications. The police forward the asylum claims to the UDI. Although the UDI formerly issued decisions based solely on the police report, as of mid-2000, UDI officials conduct substantive interviews of asylum seekers.
After submitting their applications, asylum seekers are either transferred to a reception center or stay with relatives or friends while awaiting a decision. During the normal asylum procedure, the Norwegian government provides asylum seekers a limited monthly allowance, grants them access to the national medical system, and permits them to work.
In addition to granting asylum based on the UN Refugee Convention, the UDI may also grant permission to stay on humanitarian grounds to persons who do not meet the Convention definition but who are nevertheless in a "refugee-like" situation. The government may also extend temporary protection to groups in a situation of mass refugee flight. UNHCR has noted that while humanitarian status is granted quite generously, and the rights attached are also generous, the refugee recognition rate has not increased.
Asylum seekers who have waited more than 15 months for a decision are automatically granted residence permits, provided the asylum seeker did not cause the delay. Rejected applicants have three weeks after notification to appeal a negative decision. Appeals of manifestly unfounded denials do not suspend deportation orders. On January 1, 2001, a Board of Appeals was established to replace the Justice Ministry as the second-instance body. The appeals board, an independent body of the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, was authorized to review all UDI decisions.
Local municipalities are responsible for providing recognized refugees with housing and integration services, such as language and vocational training. Refugees and holders of humanitarian residence permits are eligible for the same health-care and social benefits as Norwegian citizens.
Asylum seekers are usually deemed inadmissible to the asylum procedure if they have traveled through a "safe third country" that could have offered protection. While Norway does not use official lists to determine safe countries, in practice the authorities consider Denmark, Sweden, and Germany to be safe third countries.
In 2001, Norway began to question the number of asylum seekers who lacked identity papers. At year's end, discussions were underway to abolish or tighten the rule that grants asylum seekers automatic residence permits if no decision is made on their case within 15 months.