The Norwegian government has launched a new Facebook campaign called “Stricter Asylum regulations in Norway” aimed at providing “factual” information for migrants regarding changing asylum laws. Human rights organisations have accused the page of fostering racism.
“This Facebook page is primarily aimed at potential asylum seekers from countries that do not have a basis for residence in Norway and are therefore likely to receive a negative response to their application for asylum,” states the page, which is managed by the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Security.
In the first official post, made last Friday, the page lists some of the new government policies pertaining to asylum and migration. These including:
- Slashing benefits for asylum seekers by 20 percent;
- Increase the wait for permanent residency from three to five years;
- Sending people home if situations improve in their home countries;
- And working with the Iraqi and Eritrean authorities to send asylum seekers back to those countries.
The page also seeks to remind migrants of existing laws. “Anyone crossing the border into Norway must have a visa. If you want to work or study in Norway, you must apply for the relevant permit(s) before you travel to Norway” reads a recent post.
Another refers specifically to Afghanistan. “People from areas that are not considered safe may be returned to other parts of Afghanistan. Very many Afghans who have their application rejected will be referred for ‘internal flight’ to Kabul”, it states.
Continuing: “If you do not leave voluntarily, you will be returned by force. The Norwegian authorities therefore wish to provide information about the current regulations and the planned tightening of Norway’s asylum policy.”
In September, Denmark ran a similar campaign which has proven successful. The county’s foreign ministry published advertisements in four Lebanese newspapers warning Syrian refugees that the country had recently halved the level of benefits received by refugees.
Of the 13,000 migrants who passed through Denmark in September, since the ads appeared, only 1,500 have applied for asylum there.
However, below the very first post on the page, Poyan Asgari Renani who works for Amnesty International Norway said the page was “filled with hate, racism and prejudice.” Continuing, “In that context, I hope as many people as possible will send mail to the Ministry,” before giving the e-mail address of a government minister.
“It’s not exactly ‘Welcome to Norway’,” said Jøran Kallmyr, a state secretary in the Ministry of Justice appointed by the Norwegian Progress Party. However, “We want to provide accurate and sober information”, he added.
Mr. Kallmyr explained to the Local that the information on the Facebook Page would soon be translated into Pashto and Dari.
Mazyar Keshvari, the immigration spokesman for the Progress Party, said some people claiming to be refugees were “ungrateful”.
Referencing recent examples, such as the migrants who threatened to jump from a ferry unless they were allowed into Norway from Sweden and those in an asylum centre near Oslo who demanded extra food, he said:
“In this situation, some of the luckiest people, who have been provided in Norway with food, drink, clothing and shelter at taxpayers’ expense, are protesting the quality of the food and the internet speed on reception.”
Adding: “These ungrateful people should immediately get out of the country, freeing capacity for those who need security and protection.”