Along the border it shares with Russia in the Arctic Norway is building a steel fence at its arctic border with Russia after an influx of thousands of refugees last year. The border stretches about 600 feet and is 11 feet high at the Storskog border crossing point. Construction is ongoing and timed to be completed before the winter sets in. Storskog lies about 10 miles from the town of Kirkenes along European Route E105. It is the only legal border crossing post in the area.
Border crossers rely on bicycles to cross the Arctic border because Russian police do not allow crossings on foot, while it is also illegal to cross into Norway without the correct documentation. Many of them are Syrian Muslims.
According to Reuters news service, Norwegian Deputy Justice Minister Ove Vanebo said that building the fence and a gate amount to “responsible measures."
According to the United Nations, about 156,000 migrants crossed into Norway in October 2015 alone. In March of this year, the number dropped to about 30,000.
The mayor of the Soer-Varanger region, Rune Rafaelsen, does not understand the need for the border fence. Rafaelsen said that there are too many fences in Europe already, while citing the example of countries such as Hungary. Some Hungarians are suggesting that pig heads be placed at border crossings in order to ward off Muslim migrants.
Linn Landro of Norway’s Refugees Welcome group said the country has an obligation to be a destination for refugees. Landro told Reuters that the fence transmits a negative signal, “including to Russia because it says that 'we don't trust you'."
In 2015, Norway and Russia repeatedly disagreed over how to manage the migrants and refugees. Last year, Russia and Norway battled to repeatedly reject the same refugees.
Norway will soon return refugees who have Russian residency permits back to Russia, having received no “satisfactory” explanation why so many refugees are going to Norway rather than neighboring Finland.
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