svalbard map

Norwegian Politicians Suggest Sending Refugees To Arctic Island Svalbard to live with polar bears. Joke?

Country’s Green Party hopes that putting people on the archipelago will boost employment for the 2,600 people who live there – who are outnumbered by the 3,000 polar bears

The country’s Green Party has suggested Svalbard, an island and one of the world’s most remote areas, be used to take in refugees and boost the population of just 2,600 people, who share the space with 3,000 polar bears.

The island’s governor is looking into whether it would be legal to house refugees so far from the rest of the EU, in an island which, though part of Norway, is not part of the Schengen agreement that allows free movement between signed-up nations.

Espen Klungseth Rotevatn, the leader of Greens on Svalbard, told newspaper Vart Land: “A reception centre would of course create jobs, but that is a positive side effect of something much more important than coal mining, that’s not our primary concern,”  “Europe is on fire, and it is now that our values and ethical standards are put to the test.”

He told the paper more refugees could help the regions economy, including coal mining on the island, but added: “Europe is on fire, and it is now that our values and ethical standards are put to the test.”

  • Svalbard is far north of Norway, in the Arctic Circle

svalbard map

The only group to propose putting people on the island in the past has been the country’s anti-immigration Progress Party. One member proposed in May that Norway should send 10,000 immigrants to the islands – later retracting his statement and saying it was simply a way of demonstrating how little space the country has.

After seeing this story, the Norwegian Green Party got in touch to state their interest in Svalbard is meant to ensure each area of Norway takes refugees, rather than placing masses of them in a distant part of the country.

“The story is therefore in reality about local politicians wanting to help refugees by giving them homes and jobs in a Western community, not about cynical politicians wanting to send refugees away to a dangerous and remote Arctic island,” a spokesperson said.

“The Green Party of Norway would like to convey to British readers that we are deeply concerned about the refugee crisis, and that we are taking every step possible to help the refugees.

“We are proud to be a part of a parliamentary decision to accept one of Europe’s largest numbers of quota refugees per capita, and we are working as hard as we can to accept and house even more of the refugees fleeing across Europe as we speak.

“We hope British readers share our concern and push their community leaders to pursue a path of solidarity and warmth that relieve the refugee crisis.”

svalbart life
A dog sledding team in the Adventdalen Valley, Svalbard, Norway

French:
svalbard polar bear

Un archipel glacé en Norvège pourrait devenir un refuge pour des Réfugiés

Aujourd’hui, cet archipel peu peuplée, où l’on compte plus d’ours polaires que d’humains, pourrait à nouveau devenir une terre d’asile— cette fois pour les réfugiés fuyant la guerre en Syrie.

Andrew Kroglund, qui est le chef international de la communication du parti Vert — le huitième parti de Norvège — a déclaré que la section du parti Vert à Svalbard avait proposé aux autorités centrales d’accueillir un nombre non spécifié de réfugiés. Le Parlement norvégien a d’ores et déjà soutenu un plan pour accepter 10 000 réfugiés syriens pour les deux prochaines années.

Le parti Vert explorerait la possibilité de construire un centre d’accueil dans la région pour accueillir les réfugiés.

« La Norvège n’est pas différente du reste de l’Europe continentale, » a déclaré Kroglund.

La possibilité d’installer des réfugiés à Svalbard a été soulevée plus tôt dans l’année, peut-être pour des raisons moins altruistes. Christian Eikeland, le leader du Parti du progrès norvégien (FrP), un groupe de fervents conservateurs anti-immigration, avait suggéré de monter un camp pour héberger les réfugiés à Svalbard, mais il a retiré sa proposition après avoir suscité les critiques. Kroglund a décrit la suggestion de Christian Eikeland comme une « proposition d’un type différent », favorisant un sentiment anti-immigration. Dans les années 1980, Carl l. Hagen, le président du FrP, prônait l’idée d’envoyer les toxicomanes et les criminels dans des camps de prisonniers sur des îles isolées.

Dans le même temps, le milliardaire norvégien et magnat de l’immobilier Petter Stordalen, à qui appartient Nordic Choice Hotels — la plus grande chaîne d’hôtels de Scandinavie — a déclaré qu’il offrirait 5 000 nuits à des réfugiés dans ses hôtels. Il aurait déjà hébergé plus de 50 réfugiés au Quality Airport Hotel Gardermoen, à la périphérie d’Oslo.

Source: Huffingtonpost.Co.UK, Images From Twitter,Wikipedia

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