Press conference March 25, 2022: Post by the Minister of Justice and Public Security
Speech/statement | Date: 26/03/2022 | Ministry of Justice and Public Security
By Minister of Justice and Public Security Emilie Enger Mehl (Press conference March 25, 2022)
(The post must be compared with the post delivered)
Thank you, Prime Minister.
At present, some 5 000 Ukrainian refugees have registered in Norway. In addition, an unknown number of people have arrived in Norway through private initiatives but have yet to contact the Norwegian authorities.
In addition to the people who arrive on their own, the Norwegian Government will transfer up to 5 250 refugees, and the first of these landed on Norwegian soil on Monday.
During the past few weeks, the Norwegian Government has worked tirelessly to prepare Norway to receive a large number of refugees. The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) has procured over 13 000 places in reception centres. Contracts are regularly being entered into to establish reception centres organised by private, municipal, and voluntary sector players.
The Norwegian Government will now ask the Storting for authorisation for up to NOK 5 billion in funds to establish more places in reception centres to ensure that we are prepared for the growing refugee crisis.
Refugees need to register to apply for temporary collective protection.
After the asylum crisis in 2015, capacity to receive and register asylum seekers was downscaled, and the Norwegian Government centralised these activities in Råde. This system was not designed to handle the current number of refugees.
The police have established registration sites at 18 locations in 8 police districts within a very short period of time, and are working hard to further upscale capacity.
As the National Police Commissioner reported yesterday, a large number of positions have been transferred to the National Police Immigration Service. Personnel have been trained and technical solutions are now in place. NOK 50 million is being reallocated to the districts to improve their ability to handle the migration situation.
The police expect the registration process to be less time-consuming going ahead.
However, it is important to maintain the quality of identity checks.
The police are aware that organised criminal networks in Europe are providing genuine identification documents to third-country citizens who want to enter the Schengen area illegally. Based on their experience with large migration flows in the past, the police know that some people are exploiting the situation in order to obtain residence permits on false grounds.
The UDI is now streamlining the case processing of Ukrainian asylum seekers by automating the decision-making process, which should speed up the work.
All municipalities with reception centres will receive a grant which covers the average additional costs associated with having an asylum reception centre in the municipality.
Expenses may nonetheless vary considerably from one host municipality to another.
The Norwegian Government proposes increasing the discretionary grant to help host municipalities which will incur particularly high expenses this year.
The Norwegian Government is making plans to prepare Norway to receive tens of thousands of refugees.
If 100 000 refugees come to Norway, this would be as many people as the inhabitants of Bodø, Lillehammer and Elverum together. If tens of thousands of refugees come here, this will impact on the services we can deliver, and require that the rules and regulations be simplified and adapted.
In April, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security will present a proposition to the Storting, proposing legislative amendments in all areas in which we think it is important to adapt the rules to handle the arrival of 35 000–100 000 refugees.
The Norwegian Government considers the risk of human trafficking to be a serious matter.
The police are aware that people who have previously been reported to the police for committing sexual abuse against children, or who have been convicted of such crimes, have participated in the voluntary efforts to transport refugees, including children and adolescents, in recent weeks.
The police have increased their surveillance and intelligence work at the Norwegian border. The Norwegian Government is closely monitoring the situation and constantly assesses whether it is necessary to introduce border control.
The Police Security Service and the National Criminal Investigation Service have a presence at the National Arrivals Centre in Råde. Each police district in the country will also keep a close eye on the situation.
The Directorate of Children, Youth and Family Affairs, the Norwegian Police Directorate and the UDI will provide information to the municipalities and devise a strategy to combat human trafficking.