Why Norway? Understanding Asylum Destinations (2009)


Why do asylum seekers end up in one particular country? In this report, we use the sharp increase in asylum arrivals in Norway in 2008 as a starting point in our search for explanations.

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Why Norway? Understanding Asylum Destinations (pdf, 1 MB)

Summary

Why do asylum seekers end up in one particular country? This question has long puzzled researchers, politicians and civil servants in the receiving countries. In this report, we use the sharp increase in asylum arrivals in Norway in 2008 as a starting point in our search for explanations.

By interviewing newly arrived asylum seekers and civil servants, reviewing case files and using statistics, several aspects of asylum arrival patterns are described and analysed. A model of action is developed based on earlier models and the empirical material presented in the study. This demonstrates the complexity of the individual’s asylum journey. Time is identified as a key factor interacting with individual and structural conditions, information and resources.

A distinction is drawn in the report between reasons to flee and reasons to end up in a particular destination country.

In the search for explanations for the surge in asylum arrivals in Norway in 2008, a key sentence was identified and deconstructed. «We heard that ‘Norway is a good country ... now’», was the answer some of our informants gave to what elicited their choice of country.

A hierarchy of pull factors was identified as part of the analysis of the key sentence. According to the asylum seekers, «safety», «future», «networks», «asylum policy» and «reputation» served to attract them to Norway. In the report we look at the content of each of these factors.

The statistical analysis showed that arrivals to Europe, secondary movements, relative national asylum policies and the reputation of Norway all contributed to the increase in 2008.

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