"Vi føler oss velkomne..."

Government Policy and Popular Opinion on Refugees in Contemporary Norway


Russian refugees on board the S.S.Varna, circa 1923: traveling on the way to Norway5

"Too often, too many of us tend to forget that the millions of refugees all over the world are individuals, not an anonymous mass...  We must continue to defend their basic human rights.  No person should be forced to live in, or return to, a place where there is fear of persecution... The refugee cause is one of which most Norwegians feel ownership.  [Fridtjof Nansen, one of Norway's greatest advocates for peace and humanitarian values]...is still a national hero.  Norway is proud to be associated with Nansen's legacy, and we are glad to preserve it..."

                                                                                -- Kjell Magne Bondevik, Prime Minister of Norway

                                                            World Refugee Day, 20 June 20021


        Norwegian foreign policy has always been among the world's most accepting and open-minded.  With the world's fifth highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita2, Norway has resources to spare, and it accepts thousands of refugees yearly.  In January 2001, Norway, a country with roughly the population of Minnesota,  was home to 83,978 refugees3.  Government policy has consistently supported humanitarian issues in countries around the world, and the country's status as a welfare state has given it a reputation as one of the more welcoming countries in the world.  This reputation is reflected in the statistics: over 43,000 refugees applied for asylum in Norway between 2000 and 2002.4

    However, public reception of these thousands is sometimes as chilly as the weather.  Public opinion on refugees in Norway varies widely, and often does not hold to the official government statements.  This site is created to examine the variance in popular opinion and government policies, and provides links to helpful information for further research (a working knowledge of the Norwegian language is necessary for some links).  Click on the links below to continue...

The Norwegian


Official Policies


Norwegian people:

Popular opinion


go to Bibliography




1    Bondevik, Kjell Magne,  "Speech: World Refugee Day," 20 June 2002, <http://odin.dep.no/smk/norsk/aktuelt/taler_statsmin/taler/001001-090334/index-dok000-b-n-a.html> (4 April 2003)

2    "Country Statistics at a Glance," n.d., <http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0762380.html> (24 April 2003)

3    Statistisk Sentralbyrå, "Tabell 1: Flyktninger, etter landbakgrunn og flyktningstatus 1.januar 2001", 1 January 2001, <http://www.ssb.no/flyktninger/tab-2002-06-05-01.html> (5 April 2003)

4    United Nations High Commission for Refugees, "Asylum applications lodged in industrialized countries: Levels and Trends, 2000-2002," n.d., <http://www.unhcr.ch/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/statistics> (24 April 2003)

5   Nasjonal Biblioteket,  "En fotografisk vandring i Nansens liv og virke", n.d., <http://www.nb.no/baser/nansen/> (22 April 2003)