Norway is offering money and free plane flights to asylum-seekers who will voluntarily leave the country.
â€śThey thought they would have the opportunity to work or take an education, and maybe even to get their family to Norway,â€ť Katinka Hartmann, head of the immigration departmentâ€™s return unit, toldÂ the government-owned TV network NRK, according toÂ The Independent.
â€śMany cannot wait [for the asylum process to run its course].Â They have family at home who expect them to be able to help.Â
"For a long time, Norway has not been able to forcibly return people to Somalia, but now that we can, I think that more Somalis with an obligation to leave will opt for assisted return."
Over 900 people have agreed to take the money to leave the country under the Voluntary Assisted Return Program, which offersÂ about $11,700Â for a couple with two children.
The International Organization for Migration, which runs the program, says the payment/travel plan is â€śsafe and dignified."
â€śEarlier this year, the number [of applications] was an average of 100 per month,â€ť IOM spokesperson Joost van der Aalst said. â€śIn October, there were 150, and in November, there were 230 applications.â€ť
Norway put emergency rules into effect inÂ November to slow down theÂ flood of refugees arriving in the country, the Daily Mail reports.
Under the new rules, Norway officials can more easily refuse an asylum application if someone has already lived in a safe third country,Â foreigners mayÂ be arrested and detained if it is likely their asylum applications won't be approved,Â foreign nationals can be forced to report to officials and made to live in a specific place, andÂ those with criminal records can be put on fast-track deportation system.