Immigration Minister Sylvi Listhaug (Frp) is taking a week’s break from Norwegian politics to take on the refugee situation in East Africa. The goal is to send more citizens back.
Tuesday morning Listhaug and her entourage arrive in Sudan, the first stop of the journey. The immigration minister will also be visiting Ethiopia and Kenya, informs one of her advisors to NTB.
In all three countries, meetings with the authorities are on schedule. In addition, Listhaug will visit a refugee camp in northern Kenya, at her own discretion. The trip will last until Sunday.
“We will travel to look at the refugee situation in Africa. As of today, large parts of the refugee and asylum debate are about other conflict areas and hardly any follow up happens to those I would call ‘the forgotten refugees’,” said Listhaug.
“We will meet with authorities and international organizations that have good knowledge of the refugee flow in Africa. It is a continent that seems to be completely forgotten in Norway and the rest of the world,” said Listhaug.
An important purpose of the trip is to put in place return agreements with the three countries.
“Return policy is highly prioritized in Norway, so it will be natural for us to ensure that people who are not entitled to stay in Norway can be returned to the countries from which they come from,” stated Listhaug in advance of the trip.
Change with assistance
Last year, Listhaug stated that the government is working to put in place return agreements with several countries. Listhaug will be willing to give assistance in return to put such agreements in place, writes Bergens Tidende.
Norway is one of the few countries that have a return agreement with Ethiopia, but until 2016, the country refused to accept anyone who did not volunteer to go back. Former State Secretary Jøran Kallmyr (Frp) visited the country and promised that the process should be started.
And since that time there are about 800 Ethiopians without legal residence in Norway, about 70 of them have been deported, according to figures from UDI.
Help in the area
Norway has no return agreement with Sudan, where Listhaug will look into how assistance can be provided in the immediate area.
By 2016, 458 Sudanese asylum seekers came to Norway. Last year, the figure fell to 39, shows UDI’s statistics.
Kenya is the host country for hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees. Somalis are also among the largest groups in Norwegian asylum receptions. Last year, however, only 51 Somali asylum seekers came to Norway.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today