Afghan teens in Swedish asylum limbo
Published: 29 Jul 2009 09:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Jul 2009 09:59 GMT+02:00
A wave of teenage Afghan refugees has arrived in Malmö and other Swedish cities in recent weeks. Many remain in limbo as most Swedish municipalities refuse to accept them.
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During the past week a record 64 juveniles have arrived in Sweden, according to Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) figures, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.
In the southern Swedish city of Malmö alone, 45 teenagers have arrived and applied for asylum over the past fortnight.
They are among the 250 teenagers and children housed in reception centres around Sweden, 84 of which are in Malmö. Many have been in limbo for several months due to a chronic shortage of available places in other municipalities.
Of Sweden's 290 municipalities, only 100 have signed agreements with the Migration Board to accept refugees.
"The situation demands that more municipalities sign agreements to help the most vulnerable. The municipalities claim that they lack expertise. But these kids are not from Mars. Their problems do not differ from those that other teenagers can need help with," Dan Eliasson said to the newspaper.
The flow of teenage boys, mostly from Afghanistan and Somalia, taking their chances on treacherous journeys to Europe has been increasing recently as conflicts escalate in their home countries.
One recent arrival to Sweden is 13-year-old Mehdi Heidari, who began his journey from Afghanistan seven months ago.
"My father was murdered by the Taliban," he told DN.
"The Taliban tries to recruit all the boys to their schools. They offer food and shelter. If you don’t accept, things can get violent. They hit my fingers with a hammer."
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) many of those arriving in European countries have taken up to a year to complete their journeys, living on the fringes of society in the countries they pass en route.
When they arrive at their destinations many do not bother to apply for asylum and continue to live outside of formal society and accurate statistics are therefore difficult to compile.