By Rachel Stoltzfoos
Norway is offering asylum seekers a chunk of money and airfare to leave the country and return home in an effort to deal with the migrant burden.
Those who agree to leave receive a free flight home and the equivalent of thousands of U.S. dollars, reports the Independent. A family of four can get more than £6,200, or about $9,300 in addition to airfare.
More than 900 migrants have taken Norway up on the deal and applied for money to leave, according to Norway’s immigration department’s return unit. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) processes the applications and offers advice it tells the Independent is “safe and dignified.”
IOM spokesman Joost van der Aalst says the number of migrants applying to leave is surging, with an average of 100 applications per month early in the year to an average of 230 in November.
“Many cannot wait [for the asylum process],” immigration official Katinka Hartmann tells a Norwegian TV station. “They have family at home who expect them to be able to help.”
“For a long time, Norway has not been able to forcibly return people to Somalia, but now that we can, I think that more Somalis with an obligation to leave will opt for assisted return,” she adds.
The number of migrants applying for asylum in Norway has risen from 570 in January to a whopping 8,575 in October, according to Eurostat figures. Germany has taken in close to a million migrants already in 2015.
In the Netherlands, an internal survey of Red Cross volunteers found 20 percent are unwilling to care for migrants. One in five of the respondents say they will have issues helping migrants, stating reasons such as “I’d rather see our borders closed,” and “There is nothing for them here.”
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