Norway takes extraordinary measures as the influx of refugees across its Arctic border with Russia surges.
The numbers are still insignificant compared with other Schengen borders. However, Norwegian authorities appear to take no chances as the number of refugees crossing the border from Russia is reaching an unprecedented number.
Fines and prison terms
In a press release, the Norwegian Police warns travellers that they will face fines and prison terms of up to six years if they bring with them individuals without valid entry documents to the country.
So far this year, a total of 131 refugees have been registered at Storskog, the Norwegian crossing point on the border to Russia. In all of 2014, only between 5-10 refugees made it across the border, Police representative Hans Møllebakken says to BarentsObserver.
The 196 km long Norwegian-Russian border is the northernmost in the Schengen zone. It has only one crossing point, the Storskog-Borisgleb checkpoint.
Over the past months, several Norwegian travelers have brought with them people across the border without knowing that they were refugees. In most cases, the travelers from good will simply agreed to offer the people a lift to the border.
That might come to an end now, as the Police announces it will crack down on the migration.
“We strongly encourage all travelers not to bring with them people without passports and visas to Norway”, the press release from the East Finnmark Police District stresses.
According to Police representative Hans Møllebakken, most of the refugees come from Syria. Some of them have lived in Russia for several years and some come directly from Syria, he says to BarentsObserver.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Should Canada have a plan for climate refugees?, Radio Canada International
Finland: Record number stripped of Finnish citizenship, Yle News
Norway: Russia-Norway border traffic follows ruble downward, Barents Observer
Russia: Svalbard visitor list rules “unfriendly” says Russia, Barents Observer
Norway: Air route links Norway, Sweden and Finland in Arctic, Barents Observer