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Norway puts up steel fence at Arctic border with Russia

Norway puts up steel fence at Arctic border with RussiaNorway is putting up a steel fence at a remote Arctic border post with Russia after an influx of migrants last year, sparking an outcry from refugees' rights groups and fears that cross-border ties with the former Cold War adversary will be harmed.

The government says a new gate and a fence, about 660 feet long and 11 feet high and stretching from the Storskog border point, is needed to tighten security at a northern outpost of Europe's passport-free Schengen zone.

For decades, the Nordic countries have been seen as reliable havens for asylum seekers.

But the erection of the fence, at a spot where 5,500 migrants mainly from Syria crossed into Norway last year, reflects a wider shift in public attitudes against refugees.

Sweden, Norway's neighbour, is setting up border controls this year and has toughened asylum rules.

Refugee groups and some opposition politicians say Norway's fence will deter people fleeing persecution and is an unwelcome echo of the Cold War in a region where relations have generally flourished since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
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