Ruiner Homs
Homs, Syria. Credit: Katja Magnusson /Sveriges Radio

Five years of war in Syria has brought 109,000 asylum seekers to Sweden

Since the war in Syria started five years ago, more than 11 million people have been forced to leave their homes and while most of them are still in Syria, more than 109,000 have applied for asylum in Sweden.

In the beginning, most Syrian asylum seekers would be granted a three-year temporary residence permit in Sweden, but in September 2013 the Swedish Migration Agency decided to give permanent residence permits to all Syrians, due to the escalating conflict. Sweden was the first country to do so.

In a statement at the time, the Migration Agency concluded that "there are no conditions for a political dialogue between the warring parties and the war is expected to continue for a long time to come".

But at the end of last year, following a dramatic increase in the number of asylum seekers from Syria as well as countries including Afghanistan, Eritrea and Iraq, the Swedish government opted to try to limit the number of asylum seekers. That autumn, more than 9,000 people were applying for asylum in Sweden every week.

In January of this year, Sweden introduced compulsory ID-checks at the border to Denmark, and started sending back refugees to other EU countries, if they had already registered there.

A new law containing stricter asylum rules is also expected to reach Parliament this summer. With the bill, the government wants to make temporary residence permits (between one and three years) the standard, and limit the possibility for people who have been granted asylum to reunite with their families.

Since 2011, a little over 56,000 Syrians have been granted residence permits in Sweden. The number of asylum seekers from Syria to Sweden in January this year was 28 percent less than in January 2015.

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