Friday, July 06, 2007

In 2006, Sweden received 8,950 asylum applications from Iraqis, nearly half of the 22,200 who came to Europe

Stina Backer:

With only nine million inhabitants, Sweden is feeling the financial strain of receiving such a high proportion of refugees.

During an EU meeting of justice and interior ministers in April, Swedish Migration Minister Tobias Billstroem urged other European countries to share the responsibility of providing protection to Iraqi refugees.

"There are many reasons why so many Iraqis choose Sweden," says Mr Billstroem. "There are more than 80,000 Iraqis in Sweden, so many have relatives here. They also know that we generally grant asylum to those from central and southern Iraq."


Amal Council has just been asked by the government if they can double their intake of Iraqi refugees this year to 60 people.

But council leader Kurt Svensson wishes it was that easy: "Like the rest of Sweden we're finding it difficult to find jobs for Iraqis."

"The government has no system in place to convert their qualifications, and many can't or don't want to retrain. Some don't get hired because they are foreign."

"On the whole it's costing society a lot of money, and it's a waste of talent. When they're unemployed it makes it harder to fully integrate them into Swedish society," Svensson says with a sigh.

This year the Swedish government estimates they will receive 20,000 asylum applications from Iraqis, more than 50 a day.

"It's therefore vital that the EU will get a harmonised asylum policy by 2010 as promised," says Tobias Billstroem.

"We don't want any quotas for how many refugees Europe should accept, on the contrary we want the common EU rules to be more similar to the Swedish, because it is vital to ensure the right to asylum is not infringed."

Lets hope the rest of Europe isn't as foolish as the Swedes.

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