NOAS – for justice and respect for asylum seekers
The Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS) is an independent membership organisation working to protect the rights of asylum seekers in Norway.
NOAS’ main activities are to give information and legal aid to asylum seekers, and advocacy.
NOAS’ work should be rooted in some core values:
- Solidarity – with asylum seekers
- Knowledge – about relevant issues
- Integrity and independence – in our attitudes and considerations
NOAS should contribute to an asylum policy and practice rooted in humanism, justice and international obligations.
About the office
- NOAS today employs approx. 22 people divided into two offices in Oslo: In Torggata 22 and at Refstad reception centre.
- NOAS is an independent membership organisation. Our work is based on projects and assignments. Our largest projects are the Information and counselling programme (2013-17) and visits to reception centers (2013-14). Our other activities are financed through the member ship fee, gifts, state grants and private grants through different projects and pro bono work.
- NOAS’ highest organ is the General Assembly, a meeting for the organisation’s members. The General Assembly is held once a year. The meeting elects NOAS’ board, which is responsible for the organisation’s operations. The board also appoints the Secretary General who is in charge of the day-to-day activities of the organisation.
NOAS was established in 1984 by Annette A. Thommessen, who headed the organisation until 1994. In 1984, asylum seeking was an almost unknown phenomenon in Norway. This changed in 1985 when NOAS, helped by the Norwegian press, contributed to the return to Norway of six Iranian asylum seekers from Turkey. The Iranians, who were in danger in Turkey because they risked repatriation to Iran, had been returned to Turkey from Norway without any due processing of their individual applications for asylum in Norway. This was a clear breach of Norway’s commitment to legally binding obligations. The case brought to public attention the situation of asylum seekers in Norway as well as NOAS’ work.
During NOAS’ first 10 years of existence, the number of asylum seekers in Norway greatly increased – in 1993 about 12 000 persons applied for asylum. NOAS established as the group’s most important representative during this period – a role the organisation still holds today.
A lot has changed for asylum seekers in Norway since 1984. The authorities have gained more experience and knowledge about their conditions. However, asylum seekers are still a vulnerable group. Norway and other European countries continue to pursue a restrictive asylum policy, which consequently increases the risk of refugees being returned to persecution in their home countries. The need for an organisation promoting their cause is therefore as necessary today as it was 30 years ago.