border crossing

Norway has said it will be sending back around 5,500 refugees who arrived in the country by cycling through the Arctic Circle Storskog crossing last year.

The refugees, most of whom are Syrian, took advantage of a legal loophole in the law last year, as while people are not allowed to cross the border from Russia on foot or enter in cars without paperwork, bicycles are permitted to enter.

It is reported that Russian business owners have been charging hundreds of dollars for a bicycle and a trip to the Finnish border, though the route is still significantly cheaper and safer than that by boat, over the Mediterranean water and into mainland Europe.

Storskog border crossing

Norway appointed Sylvi Listhaug as their first immigration minister in December, and is looking to act on his promises to reduce the rise in refugee numbers by sending back all who crossed at Storskog without the appropriate paperwork.

While those with Russian residency permits will be turned away from Norway though, Russia is also said to be refusing to take them, or granting them one-year temporary asylum rather than legal status.

Norwegian police have confirmed refugees will be taken back by bus rather than made to cycle

Norwegian police have confirmed that the refugees would be taken back to Russia by bus rather than made to cycle, but did order the bikes left after the crossing to “be gathered up for use by the foreigners who will be returned to Russia," reports The Guardian.

Norway is part of the Schengen area, consisting of 26 European countries which have bypassed the use of passports and any other type of control for travel at common borders, though many purpose-built border restrictions have come back into play in recent months.