“There are similarities with the wave of Chinese youngsters who came to Arlanda before,” said border control officer Sten Holm.
The latest surge began at the end of May. All of the new arrivals are men aged 17 to 23 years old who started their journeys in Delhi and came to Sweden via Moscow. All of them have an onward flight booked to cities outside the EU such as Skopje, Tirana, Belgrade and Damascus – to which, according to police, there are direct flights from Moscow.
Sten Holm says that the reason for the diversion via Arlanda is that the people do not need to apply for a visa in Sweden, something which can be difficult for non-European citizens and which makes it harder to buy airline tickets.
When they get to Sweden, they seek asylum.
“These people are a little older than the Chinese and are not so worldly. Many are frightened and some of them don’t even know that they are in Sweden – just that they have been told to seek asylum,” said Holm.
Police believe that the young Indians are on their way south to find work, probably in Italy.
“It seems to be organised. As far as we can tell, they don’t have the resources themselves to plan and pay for their travel.”
The men are arriving in groups of between two and four people.
Staff on their Aeroflot planes from Moscow are already so used to such passengers that they have begun collecting the Indians’ passports and warning border police, who meet the asylum seekers off the plane.
“We know almost nothing of these men’s backgrounds. They haven’t done anything illegal and when they seek asylum they are handed over to the Swedish Board of Migration,” said Holm.
A total of 33 young Indians have arrived in the last six weeks, according to Helen Lekström at the Migration Board’s Arlanda office.
“I don’t know if this is temporary or if it is a trend. But the fact that they are arriving on the same flights in recent weeks is new,” she said.
In contrast to the young Chinese asylum seekers, none of the Indians have disappeared from the Migration Board’s accommodation facilities.