Norway’s Directorate of Immigration (Utlendingsdirektorat, UDI) has said that it will close 17 asylum centres across the country.
Norwegian asylum centres capacity to be reduced by further 1,600
The decision is likely to affect several hundred under-age asylum seekers, reports the local.
UDI did not name all the centres to be closed, but did say that some centres for unaccompanied minors would be included.
“The basis for this is that UDI has far too much available capacity. This is a result of 31,000 asylum seekers coming [to Norway] in 2015, compared to just 3,460 last year. That is a reduction of over 27,000 asylum seekers,” UDI’s regional director Stig Arne Thune told NRK.
The closures encompass 1,610 places at asylum centres, of which 320 are earmarked for unaccompanied minors arriving in the country, according to the report.
“If arrivals in Norway remain low, I wouldn’t rule out further reductions,” Thune said.
Norsk Mottaksdrift, a company that has run several asylum centres under the auspices of UDI, will now close its last remaining centre, in the town of Skei, under orders from UDI.
The company’s owner Per Erik Lykstad told NRK that, although reaction amongst his employees had been varied, the news had not come as a surprise.
“I understand that UDI must downsize when there are fewer asylum seekers. But it will be a challenge if there is an increase in numbers of asylum seekers in future. We will be less well-prepared,” he said.
Lykstad said the announcement was difficult to take for a number of reasons.
“This is special for us as a company, because Skei is the last centre we are operating. This type of business is now over for us. In 2016 we had around 300 employees at our centres, by December we’ll have none,” he said.
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