CENTER, right and left political parties in Norway have been divided on the controversial issue of deporting rejected asylum seekers back to their country of origin.
Norway’s Deputy Justice Minister Himanshu Gulati of the Progress Party (FrP) wants to send Eritrean asylum seekers who have received a final ‘NO’ from the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) back home.
The Deputy Minister said he traveled to Eritrea several times and met with Eritrean authorities to discuss a return agreement. He terms the talks as “constructive”.
“I was welcomed, experienced a positive attitude and had constructive talks. We will continue with new talks in the near future,” says Gulati.
The previous Red-Green government considered similar return agreement with Eritrea during their time in power but failed. However, they succeeded to secure one with Ethiopia in January 2012.
Government partners, the Christian Democratic Party (KrF) and the Liberals (V) shows neither support nor objection on the proposed plan.
The Eritrean government, however, made it clear from the onset that it only welcomes for those who want to return voluntarily.
Hundreds of Eritreans in the last couple of years have been returned from Israel, Egypt, Libya and Sudan by their own free will.
Despite government’s repeated re-assurances and testimonies of previous returnees, NGOs like the Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers (NOAS) and politicians like Karin Anderson from the Socialist Left (SV) still believes returning asylum seekers back to Eritrea is not safe.
According to Mr Gulati (FrP), though, deporting rejected asylum seekers is a priority area for the current government with plans to return 45% more refugees than the Centre-Left tripartite coalition did.
Around 3,250 Eritrean applied for asylum in Norway last year and around 500 are now kept in asylum reception centres for deportation.