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Norway To Send Some Asylum Seekers Back To Russia

Norway's government said it would soon start returning some asylum seekers to Russia.

Police say some 1,600 Syrians and other migrants have reached the Scandinavian country by crossing the Arctic and the Storskog border station dividing northern Russia from Norway.

Some 20 to 30 percent of the Syrians taking this route -- which is less dangerous than crossing the Mediterranean in an inflatable boat -- had been living in Russia legally, the government said October 20.

Citing an agreement with Russia signed in 2007, Justice Minister Anders Anundsen ordered immigration authorities to prioritize the case files of asylum seekers with Russian dual citizenship, a residence permit, or a visa.

He said it's important that officials send "a clear signal" to people who don't need protection or who have legal residence in Russia that they will be sent back to Russia.

Refugees have been crossing the Storskog border by bicycle, as Russian regulations do not allow people to cross the border on foot and Norwegian authorities consider it human trafficking to transport refugees across the border in a car.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP