During the last couple of weeks The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) in desperate shortage of overnight accommodation was forced to send more than one thousand asylum seekers to the places high in the mountains of Norway. Journalists from Aftenposten have visited one of them and checked how the refugees feel about the life in this deserted area.
There came 104 adults and 34 children to the hotel Hornsjø in the mountain Øyer two weeks ago. “They came at night and in the dark up in the mountains many get some panic, thought they had been kidnapped. They even tried to reverse the bus”, tells the manager at Hornsjø hotell, Jan Bjørke. But after a few days in proper bed and with plenty of food, the refugees managed to calm down and had some rest which they needed so desperately.
However now, after two weeks, people started thinking about their future in Norway. The place where they live now is safe and comfortable, but they are getting a bit bored. A 27-year-old man who wanted to remain anonymous shared with Aftenposten his hopes and concerns: “No one has come here from the government or UDI. They should soon explain what will happen to us. People want more clear and stable situation. The days go by playing cards and table tennis, but I notice it is starting to get boring”.
The hotel has been visited by voluntary students who have offered the language classes and other activities to the residents. On one of the first days the chairman of the hotel Øyvind Wiström tried to organize some hiking tours in the nature, but the refugees explained that they have recently had a really long walk which is enough for them for a while.
“We understand that it might seem hard for some asylum seekers to stay in the mountains. But the most important thing right now is to provide them with some shelter. This is an emergency situation, these housing is temporary and our intention is to move the residents further afterwards”, explains the press advisor in UDI, Kjersti Vaugelade-Baust.
Since august UDI has worked hard to find the places to live for the refugees from Syria. In the beginning it was difficult to provide enough normal reception centers, but many landlords and hotel managers agreed to welcome asylum seekers temporarily. Hemsedal houses have already 500 refugees living, around 1,000 are housed on both sides of Gudbrandsdalen. Now about 500 asylum seekers are placed in Rondane.
Before the weekend UDI had signed contracts for over 8800 emergency places from Søgne to Kirkenes in the high north. But this record capacity is already filled up with about 8,000 new asylum seekers arrived in Norway only in October. “We are currently working to announce further 15,000 places in reception centers. In addition, we want to establish 10,000 places with simple standard that will replace these acute shelters”, says press advisor in UDI, Kjersti Vaugelade-Baust.
The government today is holding a meeting with the representatives of the partner parties Venstre and KrF about the budget management in the light of the complicated refugee situation in Norway. The government announced on Friday that the rapidly increasing influx of refugees will cause Norway additional expenditure of around 85 billion crowns over the next six years.