Fear of new illegal migrant routes to Norway

Fear of new illegal migrant routes to Norway
Britain has recently uncovered several cases where immigrants and refugees are smuggled in using small boats. In late May the British coastguard had to rescue 19 migrants from a rubber boat in the English Channel.

Last year more than a million immigrants came to the EU. The police cooperation Eurojust reckon that criminal traffickers are behind 90 per cent of this traffic.

Now there are fears that smuggling routes at sea will be created also within the EU, and law enforcement authorities have made a special "task force" to deal with the emergence of trafficking routes in the North Sea region.

Norway, however, is not part of this collaboration.

"We are not part of the "Task Force" you refer to, but through our desk at Europol and Eurojust, we share and receive information of all types of cases. Also within human smuggling," says Police Communications Adviser, Axel Wilhelm Due, to ABC Nyheter.

He emphasizes, however, that Norway is part of the Europol cooperation unit of analysis of human trafficking, called "Checkpoint".

The new North Sea Group was formed after 18 specific cases of human smuggling were uncovered. Four EU countries are involved in the cooperation against human trafficking across the North Sea - France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

When the group was formed, the necessity of information, both about possible smuggling routes and how they are financed, was emphasized.

Both Denmark and Sweden have reinforced their id controls at the borders, which has made it harder to come to wealthy Norway over land.

But with warmer temperatures it is believed that chances may increase that traffickers will try out new routes. Not only is the water now warmer, but the potentially deadly waves in the North Sea have also calmed down.

It is the Coast Guard who assist the police in monitoring and control of the long Norwegian coastline. Although they are on duty around the clock, they must have concrete information before they can intervene.

- If police ask us to control or monitor a particular zone or part of the coast, we'll send crew there, says Commander Steve Olsen.

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