Identification Procedures Put the Lives of Families with Children on Hold
An article in yesterday’s issue of the newspaper Klassekampen highlights the concern of identity measures which puts the asylum seeker’s life on hold.
Since 2009, asylum seekers who are in Norway based on humanitarian grounds are given limited stay permit, and the majority stay at the asylum, without any offer of tuition in the Norwegian language. Scientist Silje Sønsterudbråten states that:
«The use of these limited permissions is not in conformity with the fundamental thought behind them”. You can read the article in Klassekampen here. (The article is written in Norwegian)
NOAS is familiar with several instances of families with children who have lived in asylum for a long time with limited permissions. In most cases it concerns vulnerable caregivers, often with significant mental health problems. This in turn causes the children to suffer, and could lead the children to develop psychological problems and behavioral difficulties.
As early as in May 2008 NOAS had contact with the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion, and took up the issue with the then State Secretary Libe Riebe-Mohn. The Ministry stated that this was something they wanted to look more into, but since then no changes have been made for this group of asylum seekers.
NOAS’s NGO-report «Barn på flukt» («Displaced Children») from 2011 also looks into the situation for families with children who have lived in asylum for a long time with limited permissions, and put forward concrete proposals for action. NOAS states that limited permissions to families with children must stop. If not, NOAS states that these families must be given the right to tuition in the Norwegian language, in the Norwegian society as well as a course of instruction in integration.
The white Paper on Displaced Children does not discuss these issues, and refer instead to a research report published by Fafo June 2012 on the situation and the consequences for families with children with limited stay permit. The Fafo-report points out that even though 1 out of 3 asylum seekers show some sort of identification in the case procedure, the majority of those who received limited stay permit are not able to prove their identity within the given deadline. Many find it impossible to obtain identification.
In line with NOAS’s concerns, the report notes that these families with children do not have access to tuition in the Norwegian language, in the Norwegian society as well as settlement support.
Even though the children have access to school and kindergarten, the fact that the parents live a passive life in an asylum affects the family dynamics and the children’s everyday lives.
The Fafo-report suggests that asylum seekers with limited stay permit should be granted tuition in the Norwegian language, instructions and permissions must be improved, that a reimbursement for expenses related to identification provision should be introduced, that certain cases should be prioritized and given special attention and that as a general rule should not be granted limited stay permit in instances where asylum applicants have no ability to obtain the requested identification.
To the newspaper Klassekampen Pål Lønseth says that changes will be made:
“We will consider every proposition the report makes. All I can say at the moment is that we will make some changes to the case procedure for those who are able to show the requested identification. I have observed that we have situations where asylum seekers who are unable to obtain identification have been granted a limited stay permit. It should not be like that”.
Lønseth says the issue will be negotiated with both the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) and the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), and that some of the changes will be carried through shortly.
NOAS suggests limited stay permits to families with children must stop. If it continues NOAS proposes these families must be given the right to tuition in the Norwegian language, in the Norwegian society as well as a course of instruction in integration.