Over 70 Ethiopians have elected to leave Norway voluntarily under the government’s recent repatriation agreement.
According to the Directorate of Immigration (UDI), 73 applied during the so-called ‘voluntary’ period between the end of January and March 15.
Those who do choose to leave are given an initial 15,000 kroner in cash (about 2,500 dollars) when they arrive in Ethiopia, then another 30,000 when they are back in Ethiopia for a period of time.
“This includes help to find work, courses and training, or help to start a business. The objective of the programme is to make sure that persons from Ethiopia who wish to return voluntarily to their home country receive practical as well as financial help to return and reintegrate,” officials write.
UDI press spokesperson Guri Norstrøm tells The Foreigner, “this helps them reestablish themselves so the return will not be so hard.”
The IOM (International Organization for Migration and ARRA (Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs) administer the programme on behalf of the UDI.
Meanwhile, the remaining 320 or so Ethiopians still living in Norway face forcible repatriation. In addition, approximately 450 Ethiopian children have been living in Norway’s state-run asylum centres for three or more years. Some go to school and have Norwegian friends.
The future of seven-year-old Nathan Eshete and his family, who have not been deported as officials originally planned, is still uncertain following the family’s decision to sue the Norwegian state.
“Everyone who receives a final rejection of their application for protection has a duty to leave Norway. Ethiopian nationals without legal residence in Norway can be escorted to Ethiopia with effect from 15 March 2012, i.e. a month-and-a-half after the readmission agreement enters into force,” says the UDI says
Officials conclude, “Persons escorted out of Norway by the police are not offered reintegration support.”
A governmentMoU (Memorandum of Understanding) increasing Norwegian-Ethiopian cooperation was signed with Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hailemariam Desalegn about two weeks ago.