ID checks may hit unaccompanied minors hardest

2:27 min

The new Swedish law requiring ID checks for entering asylum seekers will greatly affect unaccompanied minors, nearly all of whom coming from countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea lack the proper ID to enter the country.

A new Swedish law coming into effect 4 January will require ID checks for people entering Sweden by public transportation, and anyone without proper identification will not be allowed into the country to apply for asylum. This is going to affect certain groups more severely than others, like unaccompanied minors, who according to statistics from the Migration Agency almost never have identification, and would therefore not be allowed to enter Sweden.

So far this year, 150,000 people have come to Sweden seeking asylum, and four out of five of them lacked an ID. It is much more rare for people coming from countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea to have ID than for someone coming from Syria, which had a functioning state apparatus.

Katarina Nyberg serves as a mentor to five boys from Afghanistan. These boys are seeking asylum in Sweden and came here unaccompanied by adults. There were almost 25,000 unaccompanied Afghani children, two thirds the total, that came to Sweden this year seeking asylum. And Nyberg told Radio Sweden that of all of those only 18 could show ID.

Immigration Minister Morgon Johansson acknowledged that the ID checks will affect certain groups more han others, but denied Swedish Radio News's request for an interview about the subject.

Through his press secretary, Johansson released this statement:
"During 2015 Sweden has taken in more unaccompanied minors than any other EU state. The motivation for the government's measures is for us to get control over the situation and prevent a repeat of the crisis from this fall. The total number of asylum seekers must be reduced and therefore those lacking ID must seek asylum in other countries. That applies to everyone, so the ID requirement is not aimed at any specific group."

Katarina Nyberg said that she is ashamed over the government's new policy.

"It's very cynical to consciously make a decision like that. You know the consequences for children and yet you make that decision," Nyberg said.