This is part of a series of blog posts written by the 2012 Peace Scholars as they complete their summer program in Oslo, Norway. This post was written by Molly Kokesh from Augustana College.
There are 200 people occupying a gravel pit outside Oslo without homes, food, or access to sanitation. Today, I am asking: why?
In NPPF seminar last week, we talked about the situation of the Roma* people in Oslo, a topic monopolizing recent local news. The Roma number roughly 6.6 million in Europe with a population of 300-400 in Norway. Their presence in Norway is not new; both Roma and Romanies are recognized as national minorities in Norway. However, this summer’s particularly large group of 200 primarily romanian migrant Roma is causing a stir in the welfare state unlike it has experienced before.
Two weeks ago, the Roma established a group camp near Sofienberg Church to garner awareness of their mistreatment and poor conditions. The group traveled to Oslo purportedly in search of summer work, but without luck, most have resorted to begging. Their stay is possible courtesy of the generous Schengen agreement, permitting citizens of Schengen member states to travel freely in the Schengen zone without a passport and remain for 3 months without establishing residence.