The Progress Party’s proposal on “asylum exports” is a serious disclaimer.
People fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve to be met with empathy and security.
On 3 May, the FRP’s immigration spokesperson presentedErlend Wiborg, a proposal in the Storting to send asylum seekers and refugees coming to Norway to Rwanda.
This is not the first time that FRP representatives, including Sylvi Listhaug, have talked about using Africa as an asylum reception center, and in recent years the Labor Party has also aired the idea of sending asylum applications to Africa.
Dangerous and exploitative practices
FRP wants asylum seekers and refugees to be moved to Rwanda while they are waiting for the application for their treatment, and with an approved residence permit, they must stay in the country.
This is because sending adults and children out to a country suffering from extreme poverty.
At the same time as Listhaug applauds Denmark for having adopted this asylum model, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed that asylum exports are both exploitative and dangerous.
Violates human rights
Rwanda is a country in Africa, and was ranked No. 160 out of 189 on the human developing index (HDI) in the 2020 report.
In comparison, Norway is ranked No. 1. In 2017, the World Bank measured that 55% of the population of Rwanda lived below the poverty line, and it is documented that the pandemic has worsened conditions.
The African Union has condemned both Denmark and the United Kingdom for adopting asylum exports.
Organizations respond to discrimination against refugees
The practice undermines fundamental rights, such as the right to seek asylum, enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
It is a shame that resourceful countries in Europe are shifting the responsibility for helping and receiving refugees to the most burdened continents and developing countries that have enough of their own challenges.
The Labor Party also wants exports
It is no less hair-raising that the current government seems to want to sign under the same disclaimer refugee policy.
The Labor Party’s migration manifesto states that “asylum seekers must be able to be referred to safe countries inside and outside Europe as long as their need for protection is well taken care of”.
This goes hand in hand with the FRP’s desired immigration policy.
That the Labor Party has distanced itself from the FRP’s proposal is no certainty, but rather shows attempts to bring asylum policy behind the light.
The Progress Party justifies the proposal on asylum exports by saying that it will be less tempting to seek asylum in Norway.
The proposal for asylum exports to a third country reveals that FRP rhetoric about helping people where they are is really about refraining from helping people on the run.
In a globalized world, all resourceful countries have a responsibility to show humanity, and Norway is also obliged to abide by signed international conventions.
A policy that sends newly arrived refugees out of Europe, as the FRP and the Labor Party want, pushes the responsibility for asylum and for following up on human rights.
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What Norway should do
If we want to protect more people on the run, prevent human trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable people, it is necessary to increase the proportion of quota refugees that Norway receives.
By picking up refugees from refugee camps, there is a real opportunity to achieve a safe life in Norway without having to resort to very expensive and dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean.
The reasonableness condition, which the Labor Party, the Green Party, the Conservative Party and the Socialist People’s Party removed in 2016, must be reintroduced. It is contrary to the UN Refugee Convention to send refugees for internal flight, and Norway is among very few European countries that expel refugees.
It is not in line with a humane refugee policy, and creates enormous pressure and insecurity on unaccompanied minor refugees.
The Mustafa case is a good example of why asylum policy needs change.
A practice that shuns responsibility is not just a disgrace to the West, but it punishes innocent people, undermines their rights and exposes people to danger. Norway cannot stand behind that.
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