“We need to entice more [people] to voluntarily travel back by giving them a bit more money on their way out. This will save us a lot of money because it is expensive to have people in the asylum centers,” RT quoted the Minister as saying on Monday.
The program, which started on Monday, will run for six weeks. The money will be paid to the first 500 asylum seekers who apply for voluntary return to their home countries.
Sylvi Listhaug said she hoped that the money offered and a promised extension of the scheme would encourage more asylum seekers to return home but added that the full amount of this compensation would be paid only to those who managed to leave Norway before the proposed deadline.
A total of 35,358 asylum seekers arrived in Norway in 2015, compared with 11,480 in 2014, the Norwegian Immigration Directorate said in December 2015. Under an EU-Turkey deal, the country agreed to take 1,500 asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016. It also agreed to take 1,500 more asylum seekers coming from Turkey.
Europe is now facing the biggest refugee crisis since WWII with more than one million asylum seekers entering Europe in 2015.
Most of them are arriving from Syria, where a civil war has taken the lives of 250,000 people and displaced 12 million since 2011, according to UN figures.