OSLO, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Norwegian Immigration Agency (UDI) will close down 3,800 places at reception centers, in addition to the 7,000 places announced in August, due to the significant decrease of refugee flow, Norwegian news agency NTB reported on Monday.
"This refers mainly to ordinary asylum centres, but also a few hundred places in ordinary transit. This will unfortunately affect centre employees, municipalities and inhabitants," Christine Wilberg, head of department at UDI told NTB.
The reception centres that are now decided to be closed down will be active until January/February, while the action announced in August will take effect from December/January.
There were more than 30,000 asylum seekers that came to Norway last year, while the numbers this year have barely reached 2,500. Many reception centers are soon to be demolished due to the lack of immigrants using them, some of them newly built.
One of these is in Hattfjelldal municipality. The mayor Harald Lie, told newspaper Aftenposten that they have to cut millions of kroner since their new center will be closed down, although some of the residential barracks are barely used.
"This is messy! Closing of the reception center will have big economic consequences, as well as human one. That creates chaos," said Lie, expressing hope that there will not be any layoffs.
"I understand that UDI needs to close them down. But it is very disappointing that they will close down the only two municipal centers. In autumn lats year UDI recommended that municipalities invest in reception centres. We followed up, invested, ensured the quality and showed that we cared. We feel betrayed now," he said.
According to Aftenposten, Hattfjelldal must cut expenses and lay off employees.
After having received 150 asylum seekers, the municipality had to employ teachers, kindergarten personnel, a psychiatric nurse, a midwife and a medical nurse. There are 30 supernumerary employees now and the UDI and the state will stop the financial support from Dec. 1.
There were more than 20 million kroner (2.47 million U.S. dollars) invested in several apartments with 100 residential rooms. Now the municipality is left behind with big building masses that are difficult to rent out. In total, Hattfjelldal will lose two million kroner in grant for host municipalities.
Wilberg told Aftenposten that the decision about closing down a reception center comes out of an estimate made by regional offices of UDI.
"It is a total estimate of price, work quality and location," she said, emphasizing that the prices is most weighted.
"The more expensive a center is for UDI, the more disadvantageous it is for the system operator when a reception center is assessed regarding downsizing," she said, adding that UDI still recommends that municipalities should be active, "specially in periods with many asylum seekers."
"It is important to achieve fast integration and in that case it is an advantage to have municipalities on board as early as possible. However our framework is within the Public Procurement Act and the contracts can be terminated with three month's notice. We must build up and down, just like others also do it in other industries with fluctuations," Wilber said.