05:20 GMT +324 October 2019
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    The Norwegian border crossing station at Storskog. The exact border is between the two pillars behind the black van. There is a Russian station further away.

    From Handlebars to Handouts: Syrian Refugees Enter Norway on Bicycles

    © Wikipedia / Clemensfranz
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    More than 100 Syrian refugees have already managed to sidestep a boundary agreement between Norway and Russia by crossing the border on bicycles.

    Finding a loophole in boundary regulations between Russia and Norway proved to be a piece of cake for more than 100 Syrian refugees, who decided to use bicycles in order to cross the Arctic border into Norway from Russia, media reports said.  

    The incidents took place at the Storskog border station, which is located just two hours from the city of Murmansk in Russia's Far North; Storskog is known for being Norway's only legal border crossing with Russia.

    The Norway-Russia boundary agreement stipulates that it is illegal either to cross the border on foot or to give someone a lift without relevant documents. 

    Goran Stenseth, deputy commander at the Storskog border station, said that cyclists crossing the border are not uncommon, and that some asylum seekers have lately started to use to the same method.

    Hans Mollebakken, head of the local police in Kirkenes said, in turn, that most of the 133 asylum seekers that have come to Norway via Russia this year were Syrian refugees who have stayed in Russia for shorter or longer periods.

    He said that the police had already arrested several drivers who had driven asylum seekers across the border.

    "We arrested someone on Thursday, and we are working on the case. It could be that people are making money off giving these lifts, and in that case, we are talking about human trafficking," Mollebakken said.

    He pledged to bring charges against those drivers who agreed to give asylum seekers a lift across the border in the future.


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