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Sweden slashes asylum grants to Iraqi refugees

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20:38 CET+01:00
Sweden has slashed the proportion of Iraqi asylum seekers it has allowed to stay in the country, following the tightening of rules by the judiciary, the immigration service said Saturday.

Last year some 90 percent of candidates from Iraq were granted asylum, while for January this year the proportion was down to some 40 percent, spokesman Per Loman said.

Loman said the comparison between a year and a month was not very apt, while adding, "It's too short to talk about a new trend but of course it could have a connection with the decision made last year by a court."

Though the law had not changed, the conditions required for permission to stay had been "clarified," he said, referring to the fact that asylum-seekers had to prove that they were personally under threat of persecution.

"The general situation in Iraq is not enough anymore to get a permission to stay in Sweden," Loman said.

Sweden is the leading European state for granting asylum to Iraqis, who now form the country's second-largest foreign community after the Finns.

According to the immigration service, 18,559 Iraqis sought asylum in Sweden last year,

compared with 8,950 in 2006.

The brakes began to go on in July, when some Iraqis who had settled in Sweden were told they could no longer stay.

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