On Monday The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) sent his Northern Europe chief Pia Prytz Phiri to the arrival center outside Kirkenes. She believes the detention of asylum seekers can only be justified in exceptional circumstances.
On Wednesday Phiri will meet Immigration Minister Sylvi Listhaug for talks in Oslo. The visit in Finnmark is part of UNHCR’s efforts to acquire background information ahead of the talks, Phiri explained when she arrived at the arrival center in the western camp outside Kirkenes.
– It is important for us to get a firsthand impression, said Phiri to reporters at the site.
Last week, the asylum seekers in the camp were arrested because of the risk of them running off. They were released again shortly after. Phiri is clear that UNHCR is skeptical about the detention of asylum seekers.
– We do not think that any children whatsoever should be imprisoned. Our attitude to incarceration is that other options needs to explored first, and only in extremely rare cases would imprisonment of asylum seekers be justified. These people are not criminals, she said.
The UN envoy also emphasized that the refugee crisis is not a uniquely a Norwegian phenomenon though Norway can also feel the pressure. The challenge must be addressed jointly.
– It does not solve the problem to close the borders. What is needed is a joint European solution, said Phiri.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today