Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Two months ago, the BBC World Service ran a documentary on the Iranian Kazem Ariaiwand kebab-seller and inhabitant of the Norwegian island of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean.
In the documentary, Kazem narrates his story and his family's departure from Iran in pursuit of asylum. After failing to get asylum, and after the breakdown of the Ariaiwand family, Kazem immigrated to live in the Norwegian Arctic island of Svalbard where foreigners are allowed to settle the desolate island with minimal legal requirements.
Norway's desire to encourage immigrants to inhabit its Arctic island led the Scandinavian country to open up its islands to residents of all nationalities with little or no legal requirements. However, being a resident of Svalbard, Kazem is not allowed to travel to mainland Norway or other neighbouring countries without valid immigration documents. Kazem has therefore been stranded on the island which he now calls home - an island where night time is half a year and day time is the other half. On Svalbard, Kazem owns and runs the world's most northerly kebab shop serving polar bear kebabs.
Norway's desire to encourage immigration to Svalbard and other Arctic islands could well be explained in context of the climate of conflict over sovereignty between the Arctic Ocean's littoral states.
The documentary explores life on Svalbard, talks with residents and examines the hardships of non-EU immigrants to the island.
You can listen to the half hour documentary on BBC World Service (click here).