Asylum seekers who leave reception centers without providing a new address figure frequently in the Nor-wegian public debate on immigration. They are labeled as missing or unaccounted for (Norwegian «for-svunnet»). Critics have argued that no one knows who these people are, where they are and what they are up to. Some see them as potential threats to society. Others presume they leave the country or do no harm if they stay. Information is scarce and assumptions have dominated the public discourse.
This report is the first to study those reported to be «missing» from Norwegian reception centers. It does so by looking at information gathered about the applicants before they leave. The data material consists of the more than 47 000 asylum seekers who were registered in Norwegian reception centers between 2008 and 2011. What characterized the asylum seekers who eventually ended up as «missing» from reception centers?
The analysis shows that one in five asylum seekers were registered as unaccounted for (approx. 9000 out of 47 000) and that more information about this group is available than what is normally assumed. Factors that increased the probability of going missing included: Not having family or children, being male and Missing. Asylum seekers who Leave 70 Reception Centers in Norway having a registered Dublin case. The results also showed that nationality matters. Most major sending countries (Eritrea, Afghanistan, Somalia and Russia) had lower than average numbers of asylum seekers who went missing from reception centers. A few nationalities showed high numbers of missing (former) applicants.
Out of the bit more than 9000 asylum seekers registered as missing during the three-year period, approxi-mately 2000 were later returned (or returned voluntarily) from Norway. 500 were allowed to stay. For most of the remaining approximately 6500 (former) asylum seekers the Norwegian authorities had more than the minimum information.
The wide spread notion in Norway that there is no information about missing asylum seekers is therefore not correct. What is correct is that little is known about what happens to most of these individuals once they leave the centers. In other words, we know who they are, but not where they are or what they are doing.
Carried out by: Institute for Sosial Research
Comissioned by: UDI