Our Norwegian correspondent The Observer has sent us another article about Norway’s asylum crisis. He said this in his prefatory note:
I’ve translated an article from yesterday’s edition of VG. The article deals with the massive opposition that the authorities and their lackeys are currently experiencing when it comes to finding suitable premises for new asylum centres in small towns and villages up and down the country. As this article clearly shows, councils and locals alike are fed up with these freeloaders.
Not all Norwegians are gullible little sheep, following their shepherds (politicians) through thick and thin. And thank God for that.
And here’s his translation of the story in VG Nett:
Massive opposition to new asylum centres
Facilities that could have accommodated up to 1,200 asylum seekers have been rejected. Desperate need for at least 5,000 new facilities.
Plans to open up several new asylum centres that could have accommodated nearly 1,200 new asylum seekers have in a relatively short period of time been rejected due to massive opposition from local municipalities, anti- asylum centre campaigners, local residents, and an irrational fear of foreigners [a little bit of editorial opinion crept in here — BB].
At the same time there’s been a massive increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving in Norway. The UDI (Norwegian Immigration Department) is expecting 15,000 asylum seekers this year alone. No other country has had a similar increase in the number of asylum seekers, according to figures released by the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees.
The proposed asylum centres were rejected, even though there is a screaming demand for 5,000 — 7,000 new housing facilities to accommodate the asylum seekers arriving in the country.
VG (Norwegian tabloid newspaper) has taken a closer look at the various municipalities where the proposed new asylum centres were opposed and rejected. Asylum seekers are apparently not welcome in Lyngdal, Bygland, Stryn, Eidsberg, Ås, Asker, Ballangen, Volda, Ringebu and Fyresdal. Empty hotels, old school buildings and other suitable premises will remain empty and unused.
“It has become increasingly difficult to build new asylum centres,” admits Director of the UDI, Ida Børresen.
“There are several reasons for this, such as fear of foreigners, a lack of knowledge about what an asylum centre is, and various issues concerning the local municipalities,” says Ida Børresen.
Local anti asylum centre campaigners see asylum seekers as potential criminals that can seriously harm their communities. Residents in Villaveien 5-15, a residential apartment complex in Asker, are worried about safety issues, thefts, animal cruelty and vandalism if the proposed new asylum centre in Dikemark is given the go ahead by the local council.
“Who wants to live here if the area is teeming with mentally unstable individuals, forced upon the ordinary residents and the hospital patients suffering from mental health issues living here,” says Anita Frøyset, chairman of the Body Corp in Villaveien 5-15 in Asker, in an interview with Budstikka.no (local newspaper).
This is how almost 1,200 housing facilities for asylum seekers disappeared:
– – – – – – – – –
Fyresdal in Telemark: 150 rooms in Fyresdal hotel. The local council in Fyresdal bought the hotel in order to prevent it from being turned into an asylum centre and rule out any chance of having an asylum centre within its county borders. The local council had received a tip that a company was planning to turn the hotel into an asylum centre, and in an effort to prevent the liquidators from selling the hotel to a company planning to open up an asylum centre, the local council simply bought the hotel themselves.
Lyngdal in Vest-Agder: 150 rooms in the old high school building in Kvås. Hero, Norway’s biggest asylum centre operator, scrapped the plans due to unenthusiastic response from the local council and massive opposition from the local population in Lyngdal.
Bygland in Aust-Agder: 150 rooms at Landeskogen. Plans to open an asylum centre in the former sanatorium were rejected by the local Mayor at a public towns meeting, due to massive opposition from the local residents.
Olden in Sogn og Fjordane: 100 rooms at Yris Hotell in Olden. UDI scrapped the project in Olden, after a resolution was passed by the local council in which it strongly rejected the project. A local anti-asylum centre campaign managed to collect 552 signatures from locals opposing the new asylum centre. Folkebevegelsen Mot Innvandring, FMI (People’s Movement against Immigration) praised the Stryn Council, for its opposition to the plans.
Mysen in Østfold: 100 rooms at Bondelaget’s school (Farmers school). Eidsberg Council stopped the project by changing the zoning status of the building, even though the building previously had been used as an asylum centre. The company that wanted to open up the asylum centre has appealed this decision to the Regional Chairman (similar to a State Governor).
Ballangen in Nordland: 150 rooms in several buildings in the town centre. A local anti-asylum centre campaign managed to collect 1,200 signatures from the 2700 residents in the municipality through a petition to stop the plans. The local Council will reach a decision in a meeting on August the 28th.
Volda in Møre og Romsdal: 125 rooms in hostels and apartments. The landlord pulled out of the deal after massive opposition from the locals. An attempt to open up a smaller asylum centre at a local caravan park has also been met with massive protests from the local population. The chairman of the local sports club fears that the new centre will destroy the scenic recreational area surrounding the caravan park, and that the children living at the asylum centre will hang around the local football pitches in the area if the centre is approved.
Asker in Akershus: 100 rooms in Dikemark. The local Body Corp have protested vehemently. They believe that a new asylum centre will lead to intimidation, violence, thefts, vandalism and animal cruelty perpetrated by the asylum seekers. The local council rejected the project, but the Environmental Department overturned this decision. New plans are now on the way for an asylum centre in Dikemark.
Ringebu in Oppland: 100 rooms in Ringebu Hotel. The local council demanded that the building be re-zoned in order for it to be used as an asylum centre. However the same local council refused to give permission for this re-zoning, even though the hotel has been used as an asylum centre previously. The Regional Chairman eventually overturned this decision. A second application for opening up an asylum centre in the empty hotel have now been lodged.
Ås in Akershus: 30 rooms for asylum seekers under the age of 18, in the Heia hospital. The local council are vehemently opposing the plans, and have refused to change the zoning status for the building, in order for it to be used as an asylum centre for children who have arrived alone in the country.
The Director of one of the companies that wants to build new asylum centres, and who has personally encountered the massive opposition from various councils and locals, is frustrated;
“This is way out of proportion. Any problems associated with these proposed asylum centres do not merit such a massive protest. People in these municipalities really need to tone down their behaviour,” says Morten Jørgensen, Director of Link AS.
“It’s time for the nation to come together and work as a team. The local councils need to calm down. This country has room for thousands of people,” says Ahmed Bozgil, director of the company Hero, Norway’s biggest operator of Asylum centres, with more than 21 asylum centres in their portfolio.
Why do ordinary Norwegians in the affected localities oppose new asylum centers so vehemently? It’s definitely a NIMBY reaction — “We don’t need any loud and unruly newcomers in our neighborhood” — but there may be more to it than that. Norway has been accepting asylum applicants for a number of years, and many Norwegians have learned all to well what the likely consequences will be.
Consider, for example, this English-language article from Aftenposten:
Somalians ‘won’t integrate’
A Somalian woman who came to Norway more than 10 years ago is harshly criticizing her fellow Somalian immigrants and Norwegian authorities. In a new book, she claims Somalians themselves don’t want to integrate into Norwegian society, and that Norwegian welfare programs make it easy for them to remain isolated.
The book written by Amal Aden, a pseudonym for the Somalian author, is already creating an uproar. Amal Aden wouldn’t use her own name because of fears for her own safety.
In an interview with newspaper Aftenposten, the author said she hopes to launch a new debate on immigration and what can be done to further integration.
“I wrote the book in the hopes that children will get better lives,” she said. “I want to see more integration, and the responsibility for that lies with the Somalians themselves and with the authorities.”
She claims that resistance to integration is widespread especially among Somalian men, who fear losing their culture and religion. Many are afraid of Norwegians and view them as infidels who can’t be trusted.
In her book, entitled “See us!” (Se oss!), Amal Aden claims the Somalians also exploit the Norwegian welfare state and have many children in order to qualify for more welfare payments. Many couples also “divorce” under Norwegian law in order for the women to receive even more welfare payments as single mothers, only to continue to live under Somalian customs with their Somalian husbands and have more children, the author claims.
She writes that violence is a part of life in Somalian homes, that young girls are often molested and women and children are intentionally kept isolated. Many Somalian men, she claims, prefer to live on welfare than accept jobs seemingly below their social status.
“I’m tired of being patient with a situation where children aren’t getting enough food at home, where women are beaten by their husbands, where welfare payments to the (Somalian) families are used by the men to buy (the narcotic) khat, where the willingness to simply obtain more welfare money is stronger than the ability to care for children,” writes Amal Aden. She accuses many spokesmen for the Somalian community of hypocrisy, saying they say they support integration when in reality they don’t.
Several Somalian activists in Norway are already rejecting the book and blasting Amal Aden for criticizing immigrants traumatized by war and poverty in their homeland. “Half of the Somalians in Norway have been here less than five years, have little education and have problems integrating,” claims Said Abdulwahab. “It doesn’t help to criticize them.”
Abdulwahab has five daughters himself aged four to 14, but has sent them all to school in Kenya. Not, he claims, because Norwegians can’t be relied upon but because he wants them to get a good education.
Major publishing firm Aschehoug has put out the book, saying that while it may be accused of stigmatizing Somalians, it’s important to “release new voices” on the issue. Aschehoug editor Halvor Fosli said Amal Aden had “a brave pen.”
Relatively large population in Norway
Somalians make up one of the largest immigrant groups in Norway, numbering around 20,000. Nearly half live in the Oslo area and most have come as refugees. Only 13 percent have had any higher education. and more than half are younger than 20 years.
Reuters reported on Monday that the number of people needing humanitarian aid in Somalia has leapt 77 percent this year to more than 3.2 million. A report by the Food Security Analysis Unit paints a bleak picture of a crisis compounded by failed rains, rising food prices, inflation, and the worst insecurity in the Horn of Africa nation since the early 1990s.
“Somalia is now facing the worst security situation in the last 17 years, with increased armed conflict and fighting, targeting of humanitarian aid workers, military build-up, increased sea piracy and political tension,” the report said. “This situation is severely undermining economic activities and humanitarian delivery, thus contributing to the overall deterioration in the humanitarian situation.”
Previous posts about Norway’s asylum crisis:
|2008||Aug||5||Evicted to Make Room for Asylum-Seekers|
|7||The Asylum Crisis in Norway|
|15||A Lethal Family Reunification|
|18||An Invitation to Game the System|
|23||Norway: Asylum Capital of the World|
Hat tip for the Aftenposten article: TB.