Norway is erecting a 3,5 meters high steel fence along its 196 km border with Russia in the Arctic region.
The Norwegian government says the measure will disrupt the flow of refugees from the Storskog-Borisoglebsk border crossing, Reuters reports. The decision was taken in April, upon request from the Finnmark region police.
The Labour Party opposition claims this is little more than show politics, as according to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration the Artic Route has not been used by refugees in 2016. Only 5,500 chose that route in 2015.
Only 23,000 Syrian refugees requested asylum in Norway in 2015, less than 20% of the number in Sweden and comparable only to Denmark. The flow is statistically insignificant in 2016.
The opposition also fears the move could lead to an unnecessary escalation in an already tense diplomatic relationship with Russia; however, Russia maintains a similar fence on its part of the border and is also taking measures to disrupt the Arctic Route. Thus far, there has been no strong diplomatic reaction.
The fence will be ready within weeks and will replace wooden barriers designed to control reindeer herds. People living in the remote region have a license for visa-free cross border travelling. The fence is not likely to make a significant difference in this arrangement.
Perhaps the most significant impact of the fence is symbolic, as Norway was for decades a safe destination for asylum seekers. But, attitudes are changing across Scandinavia, including Sweden and Denmark.
(Reuters, Express, The Independent, RT)