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Asylum System

Local Councils May Be Forced to Receive Unaccompanied Refugee Youth

Published måndag 16 november 2009 kl 14.41
The former youth hostel in Vellinge will be used as a temporary solution for accommodating the refugee children

Updated 20:19

One local council's refusal to receive unaccompanied refugee youth has led to discussions on responsibility and moral duty in the Swedish asylum system. Today it is up to each local council to decide whether they will accept the youth into their community or not. Less than half of Sweden's 290 municipalities have so far been willing to participate.

This worries Migration Minister Tobias Billström, who has just urged hesitant politicians to pitch in and contribute to accommodate young asylum seekers.

At a press conference Monday the General Secretary of the Migration Board, Dan Eliasson, said that there has been a rapid increase in children arriving unaccompanied to Sweden since 2005.

In 2005, 389 refugee children arrived unaccompanied to Sweden. This year it is expected that this number will be 2400. 92 % of all the arriving children are 13 to 17 years of age. There is an urgent need for 500 placments around Sweden. If all municipalities took 2, the immediate urgency would disappear. But currently only 100 municipalities take unaccompanied children.

Only four of these are so called arrival municipalities where the Migration Board handles the children's applications for asylum. So far their cases have not been tried until they have been placed. This puts an enormous pressure on the four arrival municipalities and the Board has now decided to rectify this situation. From now on their cases can come to be tried in the arrival municipality and the number of these will be increased to ten. If the local authorities don't go along with this new scheme willingly, the Migration Board will force them to comply.

"They are not entirely happy about that, but where I am concerned the rights of these children come before the complaints of local authorities," Eliasson said.

However, at the moment, it is only in the municipalities where the Migration Board is active that this can be implemented. Therefore the Migration Minister, Tobias Billström, is starting up a committee that will look into the question.

"If we find that legislation is needed to achieve this, we will deliver such legislation," Billström said at the press conference.

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