A refugee camp near the Turkish border in Syria in 2013. Photo: Gregorio Borgia / AP.

Record number of asylum seekers expected 2015

"Now it's even more important that everybody participates in this important work"
7:59 min

The Swedish Migration Board can anticipate granting asylum to 95,000 refugees next year, which would be a record number and could mean longer waiting times for asylum applications.

The Migration Board presented its forecast for the Swedish government Tuesday and estimated between 80,000 and 105,000 refugees will seek asylum.

By the end of this year, some 83,000 people are expected to have sought asylum in Sweden, almost as many as in 1992 when the war in the Balkans produced the highest annual number of asylum seekers to the country. That number was under 55,000 in 2013, and under 44,000 in 2012, Swedish Radio reports.

The armed conflicts in Syria and Iraq mean that the number of asylum seekers will likely be high for several years. The number of displaced persons in the world is the highest since the second world war, according to the Migration Board.

At the moment, there are some 10,000 refugees, who have been granted asylum, but who still live in emergency accommodation, because they have not been offered a placement in the municipalities around the country. At the moment, several municipalities have received a disproportionate number of refugees, while others have taken in hardly any. This cannot go on, says Mikael Ribbenvik,  Deputy Director-General at the Migration Board, which estimates that, next year, there could be 20,000 people who have been granted asylum and waiting to move out of the emergency accommodation.

"We need maybe 20,000 more residence for accommodation next year. There are a number of municipalities which are unwilling and we all need to help out," said Mikael Ribbenvik, in an interview with news agency TT.

The government's coordinator of refugee issues, Lars Stjärnkvist, told Radio Sweden that "now it becomes even more important" that all municipalities share the task. He has proposed more support, financial and other, to those who do receive refugees. But there should also be more pressure on others to help out, he said.

"All municipalities should be obliged to receive and prepare for receiving refugees. Today this is a voluntary activity and in the long term it won't work. Especially now when the pressure increase, it becomes even important that we find ways to make all municipalities involved," he said, noting that it is in particular the more wealthy municipalities that are among those that have resisted the pressure to receive refugees.

According to Stjärnkvist, this is partly due to the situation on the housing market, but there are also "political reasons".

"They believe that other municipalities can solve this problem, but in the long term, that is impossible, they must participate," he said.

In an interview with TT, the Minister for Justice and Migration, Morgan Johansson, said the new figures indicate "a big challenge", but said it not affect the proposed budget for 2015.

"The money available now will remain. We can maybe look at it in the supplementary budget for next year," he said.

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