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Norway wants to return minors to Afghanistan

OSLO: Norway wants to set up a care centre in Kabul that would accept underage asylum seekers who have had their residence applications rejected.

Last year, 96 percent of the 551 cases of underage asylum seekers were approved by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration – something the authorities are trying to change.

Jøran Kallmyr, the state secretary at the Justice Ministry, told Aftenposten that many of the Afghan children who seek asylum in Norway don’t need protection but rather lack a care person in Afghanistan or seek a better economic future.

A Norway-backed care centre in Afghanistan would prohibit minors from taking the dangerous journey to Europe and give them the ability to be reunited with their families in their own country.

Plans for the centers have been underway since 2009, but Kallmyr said that Afghan officials are now embracing the idea.

“Afghanistan is positive and has no objections to establishing care centers. That means that we can return asylum seekers before they turn 18,” he said.

The Norwegian Afghanistan Committee’ was skeptical about the idea both because there is no tradition within Afghanistan for running public care centers and there are doubts over whether enough qualified personnel could be found within the country to staff the centers.

“There is a big danger that the children and youth who would be placed in such a centre would be stigmatized. Additionally, there is a danger that they would be pressured into working,” the committee’s general secretary, Liv Kjølseth, told Aftenposten.

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