The Norwegian government has published its much-awaited whitepaper on asylum children.
The paper, released a week after Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) director Terje Sjeggestad refused to be bound by politicians’ wishes, examines the situation that asylum seeking children experience when they are either travelling on their own or with an adult.
Its aim is to discuss what measures can be provided for children who come to Norway.
“We must ensure the protection of the children who need it, while we pursue a policy that does not encourage anyone to embark on a journey to Europe with the risk it entails,” Minister of Justice Minister Grete Faremo said in a press release, Friday.
The paper highlights the areas that the government wish to prioritise when dealing with these children. The government wishes to keep perspective broad on the issue.
“Children who come to Norway alone are particularly vulnerable. It is an important task for the Norwegian authorities to provide good care and legal protection for this group,” declared the minister.
The whitepaper also addresses the issue of children who have lived in Norway for a long period, stating that the child’s best interests should be considered, with the government making it clearer on how children should be treated in these circumstances.
Although it contains no major legislation changes, Minister of Children, Equality, and Social Inclusion Inga Marte Thorkildsen stressed more children would be allowed to stay in Norway.
At the proposal stage, Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers’ (NOAS) Ann-Magrit Austenå greeted this move positively.
The whitepaper also says that the UNE should try to reduce the time spent on processing applications, which currently takes between 18 months and two years.
According to Minister of Justice Grete Faremo, the paper “will include a provision that asylum seekers with children who have not had their complaints resolved within 15 months after the UNE received the case may be granted a residence permit.”