Norway tightens conditions for Ukrainian refugees to discourage new arrivals
The Norwegian government is tightening the conditions of assistance to Ukrainian refugees to make the country less attractive for asylum. The revision of the aid rules is associated with a large difference in conditions for Ukrainians in neighboring countries.
What is the problem?
Over the past two months, Norway has accepted 50% more Ukrainians than Denmark, Sweden, and Finland combined. Compared to Denmark, the Norwegian level of assistance to refugees was about twice as high.
In August, payments to Ukrainian refugees in Norway were twice as high as in Denmark and 2-4 times higher than in Sweden. At the same time, the employment rate of Ukrainians in Norway is low – from August to October, the share of those who are employed decreased from 19.3% to 18.1%. At the same time, 56% of Ukrainians with temporary protection are officially employed in Denmark.
What is the solution?
To make the influx of Ukrainian refugees more manageable, the Norwegian government is taking a number of measures. The tightening is taking place in several areas: new requirements for housing, restrictions on hotel accommodation, reduction of child benefits, and restrictions on free travel to Ukraine.
Ukrainian refugees used to stay at a hotel before registering at a reception center. Now the Minister of Justice emphasized that expensive hotels will not participate in this program.
"We will still have generous conditions, but we will not use the most expensive and best hotels as it was before," explained Emilie Enger Mel, Minister of Justice and Emergency Situations of Norway.
Today, Ukrainian refugees with children can have one year's worth of child benefit arrears if they have lived in Norway for 12 months. But this initiative will be canceled.
How does it work?
The federal government is shifting the responsibility for providing assistance to refugees to municipalities. So far, residents of municipalities have a positive attitude towards immigration, but if the quality of municipal services decreases and waiting times increase, mayors fear the consequences.
Norway is planning to take a more active role in employing refugees. In October, the government announced that it would "lead" an implementation program to encourage Ukrainians to find jobs faster. In Denmark, 56% of Ukrainian refugees are employed. In Norway, this figure fell from 19.3% (as of August) to 18.1% (as of October).