The Local reports: Sweden plans to charter aircraft to send back as many as 80,000 rejected asylum seekers in what the country’s interior minister is calling “a very big challenge”.
Interior minister Anders Ygeman told Sweden’s Dagens Industri newspaper that he believed that at least 60,000, and possibly as many as 80,000 of the 163,000 who sought asylum in Sweden last year would have their applications rejected, meaning they will be returned either to their home countries or to the European country responsible under EU rules.
“The first step will be to go with voluntary return, and to create the best conditions for that,” Ygeman said. “But if that doesn’t work, we will need to have returns backed up by force.”
“I think we will have to see more chartered planes, particularly in the EU-region.”
He said that the Swedish government hoped to strike deals with other EU countries — in particular Germany — over coordinating flights to return asylum seekers.
It is also seeking return agreements with countries such as Afghanistan and Morocco.
But Victor Harju, Ygeman’s press secretary, on Thursday told The Local that the headlines were “a bit exaggerated”.
“Due to the fact that we received so many people in Sweden last year, we have to face the reality that more people will also not fulfil the needs within the asylum programme and will not get a permit to stay,” he said.
However, immigration lawyer Terfa Nisébini criticised Ygeman’s plan, saying that by giving an estimate that roughly half of applications would be rejected, telling Expressen newspaper that it risked influencing the way the Swedish Migration Agency assesses cases.
Swedish opposition parties also questioned whether the government would be able to successfully carry out Ygeman’s plan. [Continue reading…]
If Ygeman’s press secretary thinks the headlines are a bit exaggerated (BBC News is similar to most others: “EU migrant crisis: Sweden may reject 80,000 asylum claims”) there is nevertheless no reason to doubt that the minister’s statement was designed to generate exactly this kind of reporting. In other words, Sweden wants prospective asylum seekers to assume they will be unwelcome and thus set their sights elsewhere.
As individual European countries each engage in their own poorly conceived forms of crisis management, what is increasingly evident is that this crisis is itself the product of a policy vacuum.
As George Soros said recently:
we don’t have a European asylum policy. The European authorities need to accept responsibility for this. It has transformed this past year’s growing influx of refugees from a manageable problem into an acute political crisis. Each member state has selfishly focused on its own interests, often acting against the interests of others. This has precipitated panic among asylum seekers, the general public, and the authorities responsible for law and order. Asylum seekers have been the main victims.
Al Jazeera reports:
A “race to the bottom” on asylum policy among European Union countries is exposing more than 360,000 child migrants to greater risk of harm as the bloc struggles to cope with a surge of refugees, rights watchdogs said on Monday.
European children’s agencies issued the warning in a report released in Amsterdam, where the EU’s interior ministers were meeting to discuss how to deal with the influx of people fleeing war in Africa and the Middle East.
One of the main concerns is that EU countries, from Sweden to Britain, have implemented measures limiting family reunification rights — which risks separating children from their parents after they survive perilous journeys.
“It seems as if European countries are in a contest to win the title of ‘least willing to accept asylum seekers,’” said the report from the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children, which represents 41 independent children’s rights institutions in 34 European countries.