Migration Agency: "The waiting list is not fair"

To deal with the growling backlog of pending asylum cases here, the Swedish Migration Agency is hiring 300 new staff. But, Swedish Radio News reports, instead of starting with the people who have been waiting longest, they will deal with new cases, so new arrivals can be jumping to the front of the line.

The number of asylum-seekers arriving here continues to increase, with 80,000 expected this year. Swedish Radio News reported Friday that it can take up to six months before the migration authorities even take up a case, let alone how long it can take to resolve it. But, despite the agency’s principle to take cases in the order they come in, the new employees will not be dealing with the backlog.

Anders Sundquist, the head lawyer at the Swedish Refugee Advice Center, which offers legal assistance to asylum-seekers here, thinks the agency’s approach is questionable:

“I think this is a very, very strange approach and can mean unnecessary mental hardship on a very large number of asylum-seekers,” he tells Swedish Radio News.

Michael Ribbenvik, Director of Operations at the Migration Agency says the reason for abandoning the processing in order of arrival approach is economic, because it would mean moving cases from one case officer to another:

“It demands a lot of administration to move asylum-seekers between case officers”, he says. “It costs a lot in time and resources, time we would rather spend on investigating and deciding on applications."

But he also agrees with some of the criticism: “This isn’t fair, and we’re looking at how we can make it fairer, but unfortunately today we have these kinds of differences.”