Norway: Afghan hunger strike a success

The Afghan refugees protesting their lack of asylum ended a 26-day long hunger strike outside of Oslo Cathedral on Tuesday evening.

Spokesman Zahir Athari read a declaration as the strike ended, as protestors celebrated a new reaction from Norway's government.

Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen and Minister of Labor and Social Inclusion Bjarne HÃ¥kon Hanssen have said that no Afghans from outside of capital Kabul shall be sent home before the end of the year at the earliest.

"We end the hunger strike but continue our struggle for our rights," Athari said, and characterized the decision as a victory for both the refugees and the government.

All Afghan refugees will now receive legal aid to reassess the grounds for rejection of asylum. The government also promised to abide by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recommendation for returns to Afghanistan, and that no one would be sent back before the UNHCR considered it safe.

"We believe these rights must now also apply to refugees who are in the process of being deported, and we expect them not to be sent before this process begins," Athari said.
Hanssen told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) that the Afghans had not achieved asylum via the strike, just an opportunity for assistance in examining their case

Source: Aftenposten (English)

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