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» 10.12.2009 - Couple charged with human trafficking for exploiting Swaziland woman
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» 08.09.2008 - African immigrants arrested in Spain
» 24.10.2007 - Ethiopia diapora lured
» 26.01.2007 - Singapore hangs two African "drug dealers"
» 11.11.2003 - Ethiopia wants skilled Diaspora to return

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Ethiopian refugees "put to starve" in Norway

afrol News, 4 October - New legislation that cuts all social aid for rejected asylum seekers has left refugees starving and freezing on the streets of Oslo (Norway). As five rejected refugees from Ethiopia have had to escape hunger in Norway by turning to Sweden, the UN's refugee agency and the Norwegian Church now protest against the "inhumane" legislation in one of the world's richest countries.

- It is wrong to deny anyone food, today said the UNHCR representative in Scandinavia, based in the Swedish captial Stockholm. The UN spokesman, Mons Nyberg, said his agency had received five Ethiopian refugees that had seen their asylum applications rejected by Norwegian authorities. After this rejection, the five were thrown out of the refugee reception centre and denied financial support or wotk permits.

Authorities in Addis Ababa, on the other hand, reject reciving exiled that do not return out of free will, thus blocking their sending back to Ethiopia. The five refugees, as a result, have lived on the street in Oslo for six months, without any means, without a possiblity to leave the country and barred from having legal incomes.

As a result, the refugees were close to starvation and facing deadly risks as the northern winter is approaching, according to reports from the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK. The five Ethiopians escaped their harsh destiny by fleeing to neighbouring Sweden, where the UNHCR received them and a local priest gave them temporal accomodation in a Stockholm church.

Mr Nyberg today protested the harsh treatment of rejected asylum seekers in Norway. According to international law, every human being has the right to food and a bed, the UNHCR spokesman said, adding that it was the first time ever he had heard of such a harsh treatment against rejected asylum seekers.

The legislation providing for a total cut of services for rejected asylum seekers was approved this year by the right-wing majority in the Norwegian parliament. It has been met by strong protests by the socialist opposition, the Norwegian (Lutheran) Church and several municipalities, rejecting its implementation. According to the Church, the legislation is "putting lives at risk."

Ethiopians constitute a realtively small group of asylum seekers in Norway. Norwegian authorities in general hold that Ethiopians have no good case when seeking asylum on a political basis.

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