OSLO (Reuters) - Norway is telling Afghans that its door is not as open as it was to migrants, advertising its stricter asylum rules in Afghan newspapers as part of a campaign to limit the number of people hoping to reach the Nordic country for protection.
It is also using social media. The country’s justice ministry has a Facebook page called “Stricter asylum regulations in Norway,” and the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration has tweeted about new rules in Pashto, Dari and English.
Norway expects to receive some 35,000 asylum seekers this year, triple what it was last year, but still a relatively modest number compared with neighboring Sweden.
The government tightened the country’s asylum rules last Friday in a bid to stem the sharp rise of arrivals.
The headline of the ads, on the front pages of the Afghanistan Times and the Hasht-e-subh newspapers, read “Stricter immigration regulations in Norway - important information!”.
The print campaign began on Monday. A justice ministry spokesman said they may run next week as well and that Norway was considering doing the same in other countries.
One of the largest groups of asylum seekers are Afghans. Norway considers Kabul relatively safe even though much of Afghanistan remains chronically unstable amid continued fighting between the Western-backed government and Taliban militants.
“Afghans without need for asylum coming the #Arctic_route from #Russia, risk being sent to #Kabul. 500 returned from #Norway 2014/15,” a tweet from the immigration directorate read.
It was a reference to the northern route taken by some migrants in contrast to a majority that travels through Turkey and into Greece.
Norwegian embassies are also active in spreading the information.
Norway’s campaign emulates a similar move by Denmark, which in September published advertisements in Lebanese media outlining recent government measures including cuts of up to 50 percent in benefits for asylum seekers.
In Sweden, the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats said in October they would launch an advertising campaign in foreign media to discourage asylum-seekers from heading to the Nordic country, where record numbers have sought shelter this year.
Editing by Jeremy Gaunt