Norway is offering money and free plane flights to asylum-seekers who will voluntarily leave the country.
“They thought they would have the opportunity to work or take an education, and maybe even to get their family to Norway,” Katinka Hartmann, head of the immigration department’s return unit, told the government-owned TV network NRK, according to The Independent.
“Many cannot wait [for the asylum process to run its course]. They have family at home who expect them to be able to help.
"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 offers about $11,700 for a couple with two children.
The International Organization for Migration, which runs the program, says the payment/travel plan is “safe and dignified."
“Earlier this year, the number [of applications] was an average of 100 per month,” IOM spokesperson Joost van der Aalst said. “In October, there were 150, and in November, there were 230 applications.”
Norway put emergency rules into effect in November to slow down the 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, foreigners may be arrested and detained if it is likely their asylum applications won't be approved, foreign nationals can be forced to report to officials and made to live in a specific place, and those with criminal records can be put on fast-track deportation system.