Keralites languish in Norwegian refugee camps

Information was provided by a Norwegian academic with roots in Kerala at the Loka Kerala Sabha yesterday

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Persons from Kerala are living as ‘refugees’ in Norway after being duped by touts who promise them jobs in the Scandinavian nation. These ‘refugees’ are lodged in camps in the harsh winter and are surviving on the paltry assistance provided by the local government.

This information was provided by a Norwegian academic with roots in Kerala at the Loka Kerala Sabha here on Thursday. According to Bindu Sarah Varughese, Technology faculty at The Arctic University of Norway, the Scandinavian country does not encourage migrants, but takes care of refugees.

Agents promise jobs for people from Kerala and collect around Rs 6 to 8 lakh rupees. They are promised jobs and are told that the Norwegian government would take care of their accommodation. The victims arrive in a European country nearby using Schengen visa and travel to Norway, only to realise the harsh truth, she said.

In order to survive, the migrants claim they are being persecuted in their homeland and obtain refugee status, she said.

The exact number of Malayalis lodged in camps need to be ascertained, she said.  “The government pays around 3,000 Norwegian Krone (around Rs 24,000) as monthly subsistence allowance to refugees.

However, they are lodged in refugee camps and the condition of the inmates is grim,” she said at a meeting for delegates from Europe and North America. The meeting was attended by ministers Thomas Isaac, K K Shailaja and K Raju.  

According to Bindu, the assistance of 3,000 Norwegian Krone will not be enough for subsistence as local ID is required to avail various services. On the sidelines of the event, Bindu said she would urge the Kerala government to take up the matter with the Ministry of External Affairs.

“Also we need to create proper awareness in Kerala that Scandinavian countries do not allow migrant workers unless they pass stringent tests,” said Bindu, who was the lone representative from the Scandinavian region.

Visa issue in Italy

Anitha Pullayil, a representative from Italy, spoke about the hardship faced by Indians there. “Since 2012, work visas have been suspended in Italy. A large number of Keralites are not able to return home for the past six-seven years as they cannot renew their passports due to lack of visas,” she said.

“Passport is the only identification of people for getting jobs and due to expired passports, they cannot find jobs in Italy or send money to their home country,” she told the meeting.

Anitha urged the state government to take up with the MEA the urgent need to get the passports of Keralites renewed on humanitarian grounds. The information was carried in The New Indian Express. 



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