11 July 2014

The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration and Immigration Appeals Board announced last month a suspension of forced returns of migrants to eight of the 19 provinces of Iraq, in view of ‘the deteriorating and unpredictable security situation in Iraq’. Until further notice, applicants will not be returned to the provinces of Anbar, Babylon, Baghdad, Diyala, Karbala, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Salah al-Din.

According to the Directorate’s press release, “applicants who have previously received a [return] decision … to one of these those provinces, are until further notice not obliged to leave Norway. This does not mean they will get a residence permit, but that they for now have legal residence in Norway”. According to the Norwegian Organisation for Asylum Seekers (NOAS), such persons, like asylum seekers who have no documented identification, have no right to work. However, they do have a right to stay in a reception centre and, if they do, will receive a small cash payment. The cash payment is roughly half the amount for those who haven’t received a return decision. The Directorate adds that it “awaits further developments and does not process applications that involve forced returns to the above mentioned provinces in Iraq”.

NOAS wrote a letter to the Ministry of Justice and the Appeals Board asking them to suspend forced returns to all of Iraq, and to stop processing applications until the situation is more stable. In the alternative, NOAS argues that Norway must grant protection status to Iraqi applicants, at least those from the 8 provinces mentioned above. NOAS also argued in their letter that Iraqis whose asylum claims are rejected should not be returned to Northern Iraq, which now hosts 500,000 Internally Displaced Persons and faces a possible humanitarian crisis.

This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 11 July 2014.
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