The city of Bergen counts with several reception centres for refugees. Some are run by NGOs and some other by private companies but all are framed by national law and funded by the government. We visited Landas Mottak, a transition Reception centre that is originally meant to host candidates to refugee status that are supposed to stay there up to three months. However, the delays of the procedure aimed at clarifying their status (one to two years) make their permanence longer.
Landas Mottak is run by an NGO and is located in a former high school that belongs to the Municipality. It has its own sport facilities and borrows free of charge three other gym facilities from the municipality.
When refugees arrive to the centre, they need both physical and psychological support also because they are worried about the fate of the members of the family that they left home.
There are no unaccompanied minors at Landas Mottak since those are hosted in a dedicated reception centre. However, the centre hosts children that arrived with their families. According to the national law, every child that is likely to spend more than three months in Norway has the right to education. The municipality of Bergen has adopted a broad and proactive interpretation of the law and, supposing that children candidates to receive the refugee status will necessarily spend more than three months in Norway, decided to enroll them in school directly upon arrival at the Reception Centre. These children integrate all the schools of the municipality (to avoid school segregation); moreover in each of the seven districts of Bergen there are schools specialized in receiving non-Norwegian speaking kids.
The Reception centre has 50 full time employees (well above the average of the refugee centres run by private companies) and provides the first classes of Norwegian language. The hosts can work in the centre (in own cleaning and catering services) for around five hours per week, in return of a small incentive.
The centre cooperates with the police (they have weekly meetings to prevent possible conflicts) and with the NGOs that provide volunteers for helping the kids with their homework, animate discussion groups, and organize sport activities.
An interesting practice within this specific Reception Centre is that the hosts are organized in a “Resident council”, which ensures their democratic representation and participation in some of the decisions related to the functioning of the Centre.