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IMMIGRATION

Sweden sets immigration record in 2012

Sweden issued a record number of residence permits in 2012, with the total tally ending up at 110,000, a 19-percent hike from 2011 with refugees accounting for the bulk of the increase, statistics from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) show.

Sweden sets immigration record in 2012

As a group, people in need of protection (skyddsbehövande) saw the biggest increase, with 37 percent more applications being approved in 2012 compared to 2011.

Almost 4,600 people arrived in Sweden per month in the latter part of year, accelerated in large part by the civil war in Syria.

There were more than 7,000 applications from Syrians, of which about 5,000 were granted.

In total, Syrians stood for 18 percent of all applications, with Somalis and Afghans at 13 and 11 percent respectively. They together formed the majority of asylum seekers to Sweden.

Migration Board head Anders Danielsson thinks the authorities still manage to treat all applications fairly.

“But our resources are under a lot of pressure,” he told the TT news agency.

The authorities sped up the time it took to process applications for unaccompanied minors who sought asylum (ensamkommande flyktingbarn). It now takes on average 108 instead of 149 days to get a decision.

Afghanistan is the country of origin of most of the unaccompanied minors, although the authorities noted a rise in young migrants from previously less-represented countries such as Algeria, Morocco, Uganda and Syria.

Almost 3,600 children and teens sought asylum in 2012, a 35-percent increase from the year before.

Sweden grants residence to the highest number of underage asylum seekers in Europe.

The Swedish authorities also noted a rise of applications from the Western Balkan nations. Serbia stood for more than half, trailed by Bosnia & Herzegovina and Albania, with migrants leaving for “socio-economic reasons”, the Migration Board noted.

The total number of asylum applications clocks in at 44,000. In comparison, Germany went through 64,000 asylum applications in 2012 while France processed 60,000.

People coming to Sweden to join relatives made up the biggest group of new residents – 41,000 applications were granted, up by 27 percent from the previous year.

A court decision from the Migration Court in January 2012 also set a legal precedent and opened the door for more relatives to join their families. It affected mostly the Swedish-Somali community but migrants from Thailand, Iraq and Serbia also dominated the applications.

About 8,000 people were granted residency permits because a member of their family was either an asylum seeker or needed special protection. The majority were Somalis.

Family members joining people who work in Sweden increased to 9,700 from 8,200 the year before. India, Syria and China were highly represented in the statistics.

And about 17,000 working permits were granted to citizens of non-EU countries.

The Migration Board noted that IT workers from India and China were the second biggest group, trumped only by seasonal berrypickers from Thailand.

From outside the EU, 7,000 new foreign students arrived in Sweden in 2012, almost half compared to two years ago because of the introduction of university fees for non-EU students, the Migration Board noted.

Chinese students are the most numerous, followed by Turkey, the US, Australia, and India.

EU students instead increased by 68 percent to 3,500 students, most of them from Germany, France and Spain.

The Local/at

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IMMIGRATION

Denmark suspends asylum centre talks with Rwanda

Denmark now aims to work with other EU countries to transfer asylum seekers to centres outside Europe and has suspended talks with Rwanda as it no longer plans to go it alone, its migration minister said on Wednesday.

Denmark suspends asylum centre talks with Rwanda

The Scandinavian country’s plans, first announced by the previous Social Democratic government, called for people seeking asylum in Denmark to be transferred to reception centres outside the European Union while their requests were processed.

A law adopted in June 2021 did not specify which country would host the centre, but said asylum seekers should stay there even after they were granted refugee status.

Discussions were launched with Rwanda and other countries, but they have now been suspended since the installation of a new Danish left-right government in December headed by the Social Democrats.

“We are not holding any negotiations at the moment about the establishment of a Danish reception centre in Rwanda”, Migration and Integration Minister Kaare Dybvad told daily Altinget.

“This is a new government. We still have the same ambition, but we have a different process”, he added. “The new government’s programme calls for the establishment of a reception centre outside Europe “in cooperation with the EU or a number of other countries”.

The change is an about-face for the Social Democrats, which had until now rejected any European collaboration, judging it slow and thorny.

“While the wider approach also makes sense to us, [Denmark’s change of heart] is precisely because there has been movement on the issue among many European countries”, Dybvad said. “There are many now pushing for a stricter asylum policy in Europe”, he said.

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Inger Støjberg, leader of the Denmark Democrats said on Facebook that she was “honestly disgusted” by the government’s decision to delay plans for a reception centre in Rwanda, pointing out that Kaare Dybvad had said during the election campaign that a deal would be done with Rwanda within a year. 

“Call us old-fashioned, but we say the same thing both before and after an election. We stand firm on a strict immigration policy. The Social Democrats, Liberals and Moderates clearly do not,” she said. 

Lars Boje Mathiesen from the New Right Party accused the government of perpetrating a “deadly fraud” on the Danish people. 

“It is said in Christiansborg that it is paused. But we all know what that means,” he wrote on Facebook, accusing Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen of “empty words” in the run-up to the election. 

In the face of this reaction, Dybvad told the Ritzau newswire that although talks with Rwanda were not happening at present, the government had not given up on a deal with the African nation. He also said that he was confident that asylum reception centres outside of the EU would be a reality within five years.

EU interior ministers are meeting in Stockholm this week to discuss asylum reform. Those talks are expected to focus on how to speed up the process of returning undocumented migrants to their country of origin in cases where their asylum bid fails.

Denmark’s immigration policy has been influenced by the far-right for more than 20 years. Even Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, the head of the Social Democrats, has pursued a “zero refugee” policy since coming to power in 2019.

Copenhagen has over the years implemented a slew of initiatives to discourage migrants and made Danish citizenship harder to obtain. In 2020, it became the only country in Europe to withdraw residency permits from Syrians from Damascus, judging that the situation there was now safe enough for them to return.

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