Norwegian authorities temporarily stopped the deportation of refugees that had come into the country from Russia, reported the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. According to ministry representatives, Russia expressed a wish to discuss the coordination of refugee return procedures at greater length, so their deportation is suspended until further notice.
This week it became known that Norway began to send back to Russia those immigrants who crossed the Russian-Norwegian border and in recent months tried to obtain refugee status. Last year, more than 5,500 migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq had used the so-called "Arctic route" going through Moscow, Murmansk and Nikel to get to Norway. Because of Russian laws prohibiting crossing the border on foot in this place, migrants bought thousands of bikes and drove across the border on two wheels.
All of them had either visas for staying in Russian territory or other documents suitable for travel within Russia. From the authorities’ point of view in Oslo, that gives grounds to say that they could apply for asylum before visiting Norway.
As a representative of the Norwegian branch of Amnesty International reported to the BBC on Tuesday, the first batch of migrants, gathered at the former military base near the town of Kirkenes near the border with Russia is prepared to be transported in buses to the border crossing.
According to the Norwegian police, 82 people have now been taken into custody in a refugee camp in Kirkenes because of fear that they could escape. The head of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry Børge Brende noted that Norway and Russia are discussing the possibility of sending deported migrants to Murmansk and Moscow by planes.
Last year Norwegian media wrote that the number of migrants coming to the country was getting close to the record level of 1994, when the crisis in the Balkans led more than 11,000 Bosnians to flee to Norway.