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Refugee policy and attitude - Iceland, Finland, Norway

Iceland, Norway, and Finland are parties to the 1951 Convention on protecting refugees. They are, therefore, bound to process asylum seekers’ applications in cooperation with the UNHCR and ensure humanitarian protection to those who fulfill the requirements for refugee status.⁣

Additionally, these countries cooperated with the EU on many migrations and asylum matters framed in the Dublin Regulation to share responsibility and achieve harmonization of regulations. Therefore, each state creates laws to implement the international and European provisions in their domestic legal systems.⁣

In each country, asylum applications are submitted to the local police and examined by competent authorities, such as the Directorate of Immigration. Services to asylum seekers and refugees are provided by the local welfare authorities of the primary city counties, while the Red Cross assists in the legal matters of asylum application.⁣

Iceland received 843 asylum applications in 2021, mainly from Venezuela, Palestine, and Afghanistan, and accepted around 200 (38%) requests. In the same year, 1,568 applications, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan, and Eritrea, were lodged in Norway, and 1,076 (83%) received a positive response. In Finland, around 1,282 requests, mainly from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia, were received with a 69% acceptance rate.⁣

Nordic countries have a reputation for positive attitudes towards refugees. Not by chance, the Norwegian Refugee Council, for instance, has been a key player since the very shaping of international refugee law during the Second World War. According to the newest Statistics Norway survey from 2021, 80% of respondents agree that immigrants make an essential contribution to Norwegian working life, while 20% think the residence permit procedure should be easier for refugees.⁣

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