Many municipalities say no to receiving refugees 

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Almost every fifth Norwegian municipality that has been asked to accept new refugees said no in 2013. The Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi) is concerned.  Each year the IMDi sends out proposals where they recommend how many refugees each municipality should provide housing for. However, the arrangement works on a voluntary basis, and last year 69 out of the 370 municipalities that were asked said no.

“One of the main and most common reasons is the question of how many houses the municipiality can provide, and which individuals that should live there. Many of the people we need to place are single, whereas many municipalities only can offer houses that are better suited for families,” says Region Director Bente Blytt at the IMDi.

According to numbers from the IMDi, a total of 5500 refugees are currently waiting in asylum centers for a place to live. Most often it is the smaller municipalities that say no, and they are usually asked to accept between 5 and 25 refugees each.

“This is a big challenge for us. It is very important that all municipalities contribute so that the refugees can start their new lives,” Blytt explains.

One of the municipalities that said no to placing refugees last year is Osterøy in Hordaland County. According to Mayor Kari Aakre this was due to difficulties finding suitable housing.

“in small municipalities with a sparse population it is often very difficult to find good housing options for those who arrive. On top of that it can be very difficult to integrate into small, tight communities. Maybe this is what many of the municipalities think of when they say no, Aakre suggests.

This year, however, Osterøy has accepted the IMDi’s suggestion and will place 45 refugees over a period of three years. “We have now chosen to go for a volunteer-based housing model which depends on everybody being aware of their responsibility to welcome the new residents,” Aakre tells NRK.

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