In order to cut down the incoming refugees and asylum seekers, Norway has planned to provide a small financial incentive to those who wish to withdraw their applications and return to their home countries. More than 31,145 people applied for asylum in Norway last week, with the number possibly increasing to 60,000 people this year.
In order to kick-start the plan, Norway would pay a total sum of $3,670 or 30,000 Norwegian Kroner to the first 500 people who wish to return. Norway already has a plan that pays NOK 20,000 to those who wish to return to their home countries. Norway is increasing the incentive by an extra NOK 10,000 to ensure that applicants take advantage of this opportunity. Nevertheless, the first 500 applicants, if approved, would be provided with free return tickets back home, NOK 10,000 per child under 18, and an added bonus of NOK 5,000 if they provide valid passports to comply with regulations. As many asylum seekers have come without proper documentation, Norway wishes to first facilitate those who have approved travel documents. For the application to be approved, refugees should first withdraw their existing asylum applications so that the government can reject them. Then, they need to coordinate with the IOM’s Voluntary Assistance Return Program, which would coordinate their procedures to ensure they return home safely. Norwegian Immigration Minister Sylvi Listhaug said the government would save more money by providing financial incentive, rather than accommodate them in subpar refugee camps.
Since 2002, Norway has assisted in the returning of more than 16,000 asylum seekers. The program saw an increase of applications this year with numbers reaching 1,083 people. Until the process is complete, applicants are accommodated in recreational facilities. Norway accepts up to 70 percent of all applications made. The head of the Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers, Ann-Magret Austenå, is skeptical of the plan but thinks it will help those returning home financially in the short-run. However, she has expressed her concerns over the short window under which those who are rejected can apply for assisted return.