Somali refugees in Boliden, in northern Sweden

Fewer Refugees from Iraq More from Somalia and Afghanistan

The number of refugees arriving in Sweden from Iraq declined during 2009, but there were more asylum-seekers from Somalia and Afghanistan.

According to the Swedish Migration Board, 5558 people from Somalia applied for asylum here last year. That’s an increase of nearly 75 percent over the year before. As the situation in Afghanistan has declined, the number of refugees from there has more than doubled, to 1694.

Not so long ago, there were more refugees arriving from Iraq in the town of Södertälje, south of Stockholm, than in the United States. But as fewer are receiving asylum here, just 27 percent of those applying in 2009, fewer are arriving. Last year there were 2297 new Iraqi asylum seekers in Sweden, a decrease by 67 percent over 2008. On the other hand, Fredrik Beijer of the Migration Board says, it’s now easier for members of Iraqi minorities, such as Christians, to gain asylum in Sweden.

The number of refugee children arriving here without parents reached a new record in 2009, as 2250 applied for asylum. Fredrick Beijer says most come from Somalia and Afghanistan and their number is not expected to decline.

But the total number of asylum seekers here has not changed remarkably. In 2009 24,194 refugees applied for asylum in Sweden, 159 less than the year before. Only around one-third received permission to stay here.

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