With tight­ened bor­ders, Swe­den sees asy­lum re­quests down 80%

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Asy­lum seeker num­bers in Swe­den are set to drop by around 80 per­cent this year from a record 163,000 in 2015 as a re­sult of tighter bor­ders and tougher im­mi­gra­tion rules, a government agency said yes­ter­day. Swe­den took in more asy­lum seek­ers than any other Euro­pean Union state rel­a­tive to pop­u­la­tion last year. But even many lib­eral Swedes are hav­ing sec­ond thoughts, put off by re­ports of crime in­clud­ing sex­ual as­saults by asy­lum seek­ers and fi­nan­cial strains on the nation’s prized cra­dle-to-grave wel­fare sys­tem.

In a fresh fore­cast, the state Mi­gra­tion Agency said it ex­pected Swe­den to re­ceive 28,000 to 32,000 asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions this year. Its pre­vi­ous fore­cast from July was 30,000 to 50,000. Fac­tors in the re­duced num­bers in­clude the EU’s deal with Turkey curb­ing mi­gra­tion from that nation’s shores, border clam­p­downs along the main Balkan cor­ri­dor to EU ter­ri­tory and the reim­po­si­tion of se­lec­tive iden­tity checks at bor­ders within the EU’s Schen­gen pass­port-free travel zone, it said.

“...It has be­come harder to travel into and through Europe to reach Swe­den,” a Mi­gra­tion Agency state­ment said. Other EU coun­tries in­clud­ing Ger­many also re­port a sharp fall in mi­grant ar­rivals from the more than one mil­lion reg­is­tered in 2015. Swe­den’s rep­u­ta­tion for tol­er­ance and sta­bil­ity made it a haven for refugees for decades. But the mood has changed since 2015 with many Swedes un­nerved by re­ports of ris­ing for­eigner crime in­clud­ing gang ac­tiv­ity in im­mi­grant-heavy cities. In ad­di­tion, soar­ing costs - spend­ing on im­mi­gra­tion and asy­lum mea­sures will ac­count for around 7 per­cent of the bud­get this year - are seen by many as a threat to the wel­fare net. Tougher rules in­tro­duced by the cen­tre-left coali­tion last year, in­clud­ing border checks and lim­its on fam­ily re­union, have cut num­bers - and costs - dra­mat­i­cally. This year, asy­lum ap­pli­ca­tions are down to about 22,000. But anti-im­mi­grant sen­ti­ment may have per­ma­nently hard­ened. A poll by SIFO in daily Sven­ska Dag­bladet at the week­end showed more than 40 per­cent of Swedes want the government to take an even tougher stance on im­mi­gra­tion. — Reuters

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.