“Why Are Migrants in the Arctic, on Bikes? Path Leads to Europe”
The New York Times, October 10, 2015, p.A1
“Pelted by hailstones and buffeted by an icy wind, Yasir Arslanuk, a 55-year-old Syrian engineer, his wife and two young sons wobbled across the border from Russia into Norway astride bicycles last week, the latest migrants to complete an improbable new route to Europe. [Storskog, a] Norwegian outpost, 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is hardly Lampedusa, an Italian island where migrants coming on rickety boats across the Mediterranean from Libya often land, or Lesbos, a Greek island that has become the primary transit point for refugees coming by rubber raft from Turkey. But in recent months, refugees from places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have started to flow in growing numbers through Russia into the northernmost reaches of Europe, making this remote crossing an increasingly popular back door for people fleeing war and persecution, or simply looking for a better life. … After just a handful of migrant crossings here in the first half of this year, the number ‘exploded’ in September, with 420 asylum seekers pedaling into northern Norway at Storskog, said Stein Kristian Hansen, the police superintendent in charge of the Norwegian border post. So far this week, 263 arrived via the Arctic route — a tiny number compared to the thousands arriving daily in Greece and Italy, but a record here. Many of the arrivals … seemed to have little idea where they were exactly and had bought no warm clothes. But, encouraged by a flurry of reports on social media about how well Norway treats refugees, they rushed through Russia to reach Europe’s northernmost frontier. … Word of the Norwegian route has spread so far and fast via social media that some Syrian refugees in Lebanon are now trying to get visas to Russia in hopes of getting to this Arctic border post, according to migrants with friends and family in Lebanon.”
Quickie analysis: Further evidence that Europe’s migrant crisis can only be resolved one way: fixing the problem at the source.