On 26 May Save the Children Norway handed in a petition with over 16,500 signatures to the Parliament asking its members to vote NO to the government’s proposal to extend the scheme of temporary residence for children who come to Norway alone, seeking for asylum. Launched a month ago, the petition has also had the support of 37 other partner organisations across Norway and was delivered the same day that the law proposal was presented.

During the event in front of the Parliament, representatives of all eight parties in the Congress heard the proposal put forth by Save the Children and a testimonial from a 17 years old unaccompanied minor waiting to be returned to his home country. The proposal is due to be voted on 9th June, and Save the Children is sending letters and documents to all 169 MPs giving them compelling arguments to vote NO.

Temporary residence permits for unaccompanied minors between 16 and 18 years are being applied since 2009, even when the serious consequences with regards to safety, development and integration of this practice on children has been well documented. Now the government wants to extend the scheme allowing that temporary residence permits may be granted to all unaccompanied minors regardless of age and need for protection.

“We are deeply concerned, because we know what temporary residency does to children and youths. It is documented that it deprives them of happiness. It makes them ill. Thousands of children will have to live in uncertainty and constant fair of what will happen to them. This is violating the fundamental rights of the child”, said Tove Wang, CEO of Save the Children Norway to the MPs during the event, which was broadcast live on facebook.   

For Save the Children, the proposal the government has presented omits important information about its serious consequences and it is also based on incorrect premises. “Several of the children who have received temporary residence permits have developed severe mental illness, are passive, depressed, engaging in self harm as well as some examples of suicide”, claimed Tove.

If the proposal is approved by Parliament, thousands children will have to live an entire childhood in constant fear of what will happen to them once they turn 18. “We must not forget the children we are talking about. It is unaccompanied child refugees from countries affected by war and conflict - Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea. This is a vulnerable group with many heavy experiences from home and fled. What these kids need is predictability and safe environment”, says Thale Skybak, from Save the Children Norway.