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Refugee kids faking mental ills: agency staff

Published: 12 Nov 2012 12:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Nov 2012 12:30 GMT+01:00

The head of Migration Board (Migrationsverket) operations in southern Sweden has slammed case workers for routinely hinting that refugee children are making false claims about their mental health in order to avoid deportation.

A review of 62 deportation orders processed by migration authorities in Malmö in southern Sweden revealed that case workers from the agency often used rather flippant phrasing when describing the status of unaccompanied refugee minors from Afghanistan, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reported.

Several of the children's files read "have checked themselves into BUP" to avoid deportation, using the Swedish acronym for the country's child and youth psychiatric services (Barn- och ungdomspsykiatri), phrasing which a Migration Board boss admitted could be interpreted to mean that case workers don't believe the children are really in need of psychiatric care.

"I don't think this formulation is okay. I can't defend them," Anna Wessel, division head for the Migration Board in Malmö, told the newspaper.

"I've worked at the Migration Board for a long time and have heard unfortunate phrasing on a number of occasions."

Wessel blamed the situation on a lack of training and a "leadership problem" at the office which she has attempted to address since assuming her role in May of this year.

She claimed that, despite phrasing by caseworkers indicating that the refugee children are manipulating the system, the Migration Board employees' actions hadn't negatively affected any of the children in question.

The agency often justifies allowing border police to take coercive measures to carry out deportations by citing that young people are in psychiatric care.

While Wessel admitted that deporting unaccompanied refugee minors is "tough", she emphasized that her agency is simply carrying out its responsibility to see to it that people who are in Sweden illegally leave the country.

She added, however, that Migration Board staff shouldn't write about refugee children in a way that could give police the impression that they are simply trying to cheat the system to avoid deportation.

Björn Axel Johansson, chief physician at the child psychiatric institution in Skåne, told DN that refugee children who come to the institution's facilities often display self-harming behaviour and are "extremely desperate".

He admitted that sometimes his institution and the border police "work at cross-purposes", which can complicate treatment.

"It's hard to treat a patient when the police keep applying pressure," said Johansson.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

13:55 November 12, 2012 by Migga
If it`s anybody, except for the "children", who knows if they are trying to cheat the system then it`s the well educated and experienced staff who have met them first hand. This Anna Wessel is out of touch with reality. The case workers should be allowed to write whatever they want, self-censorship belongs in communists state and not in Sweden.
14:10 November 12, 2012 by Eric1
What if these workers are telling the truth? The truth no longer matters in our society, only political correctness?
14:35 November 12, 2012 by bourgeoisieboheme
"have checked themselves into BUP" which could be interpreted to mean that case workers don't believe the children are really in need of psychiatric care.

Umm, maybe it just means what it says, the kids checked themselves into BUP! Why is it incorrect for these people to state facts? Just like a police report if I was in a car wreck while intoxicated... would it be wrong for the report to say I was intoxicated???

I love Sweden but at the same time can not comprehend how people come up with this stuff!!!
15:11 November 12, 2012 by RobinHood
Care workers must behave in a professional way towards unaccompanied refugee minors from Afghanistan.

Similarly, MIgration Board head, Anna Wessel must behave in a professional way when presented with clear evidence that these children are faking their illnesses, lying about their age, or self-harming simply to avoid being returned to Afghanistan. That kind of behaviour must never be rewarded with a Swedish residence permit, and the professional thing to do is have them on the next plane home.
16:33 November 12, 2012 by Shibumi
I think chances are pretty high that I would need psychiatric counseling if I had grown up in Afghanistan and my circumstances were so dire and my prospects so bleak that I would have preferred to leave my friends, family and everything I know to travel alone to an unfamiliar land in the hope of a better future. And that's as an adult... I can't imagine the trauma for a minor.
21:11 November 12, 2012 by Spuds MacKenzie
There shouldn't be ANY refugees in Sweden to begin with! Why does Europe have to take care of the rest of the world? Whatever happened to "Survival of the Fittest"?
23:06 November 12, 2012 by jostein
Generally, if we can get financial rewards for saying something, alot of us will say it. Generally, if we can get financial rewards for doing something, alot of us will do it.
16:10 November 16, 2012 by astra2thor6
I know a lady who has been employed by Migrationverket as a translated. When she told her employer that "X" was not from country "Y" because his arabic and accent was wrong, her claim was not pursued. "X" was obviously telling the truth although the Migrationverket employee hard no knowledge of arabic
15:42 February 21, 2013 by klubbnika
@Migga #1

How can you draw such a conclusion? Did you review every case and decided, based on the facts, that they were cheating the system?

Or is it rather a wishful thinking?
15:55 March 21, 2013 by janeway
Mental illness isn't cured by receiving a residence permit.

But it will help when it comes with a free apartment, Government benefits, pension, free medical, free travel and free...basically everything other have to work for to get.

jostein: Not all of us are born or raised crooks. Some of us have morals and can differ right from wrong and we don't lie are way around responsibility.
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