The Immigration Service was ordered to test the Russians during the asylum crisis at the Storskog border station in 2015. 20 asylum seekers were sent back and forth across the border.
The 20 asylum seekers were not initially included in the return agreement between Norway and Russia as they had arrived before the agreement was signed.
Former State Secretary Jøran Kallmyr, which at that time was working with asylum seeker’s issues, says to NRK that he decided to test the Russian’s reaction by sending the 20 asylum seekers back to Russia.
– For us it was important to put pressure on Russia so they would understand that they could not just send people across the border to Norway without having to face the consequences. It was very important for us that Russia got the picture, says Kallmyr.
The then Chief of the Police’s Immigration Service (PU) in Finnmark and responsible for the returns, Tor Espen Haga, says that the instructions from politicians created an additional burden for the PU at a time when they were already severely overworked. The police could not understand the point of the instruction.
Among the 20 who were sent back, there was a Syrian mother and her two daughters who in desperation sat down in no-man’s land. According to Haga, the Russians did not even consider them, but sent them right back to Norway.
– They were not interested in being returned and would not co-operate on return. The Russian authorities were not at all interested in getting them back either, says Haga.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today