Norway is set to welcome its first group of migrants to arrive under a European Union quota this week, despite not actually being in the EU. The migrants will come to the country as part of a solidarity relocation scheme designed to take the burden off Greece and Italy.
Twenty migrants will be flown into the country from Italy this week, following a decision by the Norwegian Parliament taken in December to take part in the EU’s migrant programme. As a non-EU country, it is not obliged to do so.
The 20 are thought to be Eritrean, and will arrive at the Østfold Arrival Centre in Råde, south of Oslo, on Thursday. They are likely to be held there for several days for registration and medical checks, the Independent has reported.
In total, Norway will take in 750 migrants under the scheme this year, and a further 750 in 2017.
Helge Ekelund, manager of the Østfold Arrival Centre warned that, although the migrants will be flown in, they are not guaranteed to receive asylum. “They are treated like everyone else who comes to the country,” she said.
In April, the government confirmed that it would not be taking in a further quota of migrants despite the bloc’s agreement with Turkey, however.
“We have set a quota for refugees from the EU. Increasing it is not of current interest,” Immigration Minister Sylvi Listhaug told NTB, adding: “Norway is among the countries that has contributed the most to the relocation programme when measured per capita.”
According to Eurostat, Norway received 28,205 asylum applications in the year to Q2 2016, peaking at 8,660 in October of 2015. The figure represented a 75% decrease on the previous years’ figures, however, while the 140 applicants per million population paled in comparison to Germany’s 2,320 applicants per million population during the same period.