Young refugee runaways leave homes early on
A report by Stockholm County shows that unaccompanied minors who disappear from their housing do so when they first arrive, at the start of their asylum process.
The report is part of an effort to understand the group of young people who have come to Sweden for refuge and recently in record numbers.
"The less safe the kids feel, the more risk there is that they will disappear," said Amir Hashemi-Nik, who is a development manager at the Stockholm County Administrative Board.
The County studied the group in 2015 with the help of police, immigration, and social services. Swedish Radio news reports that the study is unique in providing an overall picture of the minors who run away from their new homes in Sweden as well as giving an idea of why they do so. The authors interviewed people who work with unaccompanied minors to get a general picture of the situation. Most of those minors who run away are boys, many from Morocco and Algeria. Others come from Afghanistan, the country of origin for most unaccompanied minors.
Paula Wallenius, who heads the unit for unaccompanied minors at social services in Sigtuna municipality, said that runaways have often had asylum denied them or else do not want to seek asylum. She said that some unaccompanied minors seek asylum just to get welfare offerings.
Last year there were around 420 unaccompanied children and young people who ran away from their homes, according to statistics from the Migration Agency. While that marks an increase from previous years in which there were around 300 runaways, 2015 also saw a sharp increase in the number of unaccompanied minors arriving to Sweden.
Many who run away from their homes remain in the country. Some bounce from city to city, and other leave the country. The report says that unaccompanied minors who run away can be vulnerable to human trafficking, and it makes recommendations for youth-homes to provide better contact with minors especially when a possible asylum-denial is on the horizon.
The county administrative board says that it will continue studying unaccompanied minors in an effort to work with them better.
"The goal is to prevent children from disappearing," said Hashemi-Nik.