UN envoy critical of the arrest of asylum seekers

Arrival center for refugees.KIRKENES :Vestleiren,arrival center for refugees. Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix

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