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Refugees cycle across border into Norway
September 13, 2015
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OSLO: “I looked at the map and I decided to give it a go:” Ahmad Taleb is one of a number of crafty refugees who have reached Europe by cycling across the border into Arctic Norway.

Norwegian police say that since the beginning of the year, more than 200 asylum seekers, the large majority of them fleeing the war in Syria, have crossed the border from Russia into wealthy Norway.

While it is not a member of the EU, Norway belongs to the Schengen zone allowing free circulation of movement.

“By sea, it’s dangerous,” says Taleb, a 25-year-old Syrian Kurd sitting at the Refstad refugee transit centre in Oslo, where migrants are sent once they’ve crossed the border.”

“But if you buy the visa (for Russia), you just pay and you go. That way is faster and safer,” he adds.

Seven days earlier he left Kobane, a town ravaged by fighting between Kurds and Daesh militants who were ultimately driven out in June.

The idea to travel to Europe through Russia came to him after speaking to people on Facebook, he says.

Wary, waiting to be transferred to an asylum centre with his few belongings shoved into a black garbage bag, he refuses to disclose the intricate details of his journey.

It appears relatively easy for Syrians to get a visa for Russia since the two countries enjoy good relations.

After flying to Moscow, Syrians typically travel by train to Murmansk in northwestern Russia, and then on to Nikel, about 20km from Norway.

There, they buy a bicycle, often at a hefty premium.

Agence France-Presse
 

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