Swe­den tight­ens asy­lum rules to force EU ac­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

STOCKHOLM: Swe­den will in­tro­duce tighter border con­trols and asy­lum rules in a bid to re­duce the num­ber of asy­lum seek­ers reach­ing the coun­try, and force other EU coun­tries to take in greater num­bers of refugees, the gov­ern­ment said yes­ter­day. Swe­den expects up to 190,000 asy­lum seek­ers to reach its bor­ders this year and says its re­cep­tion sys­tem can­not cope. “The sit­u­a­tion is un­ten­able,” Prime Min­is­ter Ste­fan Lofven told a news con­fer­ence. “Now, to put it bluntly, more peo­ple will have to seek asy­lum and get pro­tec­tion in other Euro­pean coun­tries.”

The move is a huge blow to Swedes’ view of their coun­try as a hu­man­i­tar­ian su­per­power and a team player in in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions. Vice premier Asa Rom­son of the Green Party was close to tears at the news con­fer­ence as she an­nounced the tougher mea­sures.

Lofven said the new rules would be in force for three years and that Swe­den’s asy­lum sys­tem needed “breath­ing space”.

Around 80,000 asy­lum seek­ers have ar­rived in Swe­den over the last two months and the Mi­gra­tion Agency said ear­lier in Novem­ber it could no longer guar­an­tee ac­com­mo­da­tion for all. Some asy­lum seek­ers have been forced to sleep rough just as the freez­ing Swedish win­ter be­gins to bite. Swe­den in­tro­duced its first largescale border con­trols in decades in Novem­ber to slow down the flow of asy­lum seek­ers, but the move has had only a lim­ited ef­fect.

In the last seven days, around 8,000 peo­ple sought asy­lum in Swe­den, down slightly from around 10,000 a week ear­lier this month. “It is clear that mi­gra­tion pol­i­tics in the EU need to be com­pletely re­viewed,” Lofven said.

He said the EU needed a per­ma­nent sys­tem to evenly dis­trib­ute asy­lum seek­ers across the 28-mem­ber bloc. The gov­ern­ment said it planned to widen the num­ber of asy­lum seek­ers re­ceiv­ing tem­po­rary asy­lum.

Un­til the cur­rent cri­sis, all those granted asy­lum have been given per­ma­nent res­i­dency. The gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced tem­po­rary asy­lum ear­lier this month, but gave ex­cep­tions to chil­dren and fam­i­lies. Now only asy­lum seek­ers com­ing to Swe­den un­der in­ter­na­tional quota agree­ments will be given per­ma­nent asy­lum af­ter the new rules are in­tro­duced, prob­a­bly in April next year. In ad­di­tion, the coun­try will in­tro­duce ID checks on all pub­lic trans­port into the coun­try from the con­ti­nent and tighten rules for fam­ily re­union.—Reuters

Work­ers ex­tin­guish a fire that broke out early in the morn­ing on Oc­to­ber 20, 2015 at an ac­com­mo­da­tion for asy­lum seek­ers near Munkedal in Swe­den. — AFP

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