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Sweden increases refugee forecast again

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18:12 CEST+02:00
Sweden's Migration Board (Migrationsverket) has increased its forecast to 31,000 for the number of people expected to seek asylum this year. It has also requested an additional 60 million kronor ($7.86 million) in 2010 to cope with the increased pressure.

"There has been a sharp upward revision. This is the second time this year we have increased the projection," said Dan Eliasson, the director general of the Migration Board.

Previously, the Migration Board estimated that there would be 25,000 asylum seekers in 2010, but in February, it increased its forecast to 28,000 and asked for an additional 50 million kronor for its budget. It has also increased its projection for next year by 1,000 to 28,000.

The spike in asylum seekers is largely because more people from Serbia and Kosovo are seeking refugee status following the abolition of visa requirements.

"Many European countries have been surprised by so many now coming from Serbia," said Eliasson. "Among others, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland have noticed a similar development."

However, the likelihood of people from the Balkans being allowed to staying in Sweden is "extremely" small.

"Each case must of course be assessed individually, but generally, it is very difficult to get asylum in Sweden from another European country," said Eliasson. "Often, the living conditions are very difficult. Many live in extreme poverty. However, Swedish asylum law provides no protection because of poverty and destitution, only to those who are threatened or persecuted."

The agency now expects that the government will inject extra money as required. If the Migration Board does not receive additional resources, the likely consequence would be longer processing times and increased caseloads. This would result in longer stays for asylum seekers in Sweden, which would mean a substantially increased burden on the government's budget, according to the estimates.

The agency also pointed out the need for 1,400 new apartments for asylum seekers. In response to the surge, the Migration Board has addressed the need for an increase in resources both for this year and next.

With regard to cases relating to work, visit and residence, the forecast for the number of applications is unchanged, with the exception of the guest student category.

In light of the decision to introduce tuition fees at Swedish universities and colleges for foreigners by Sweden's parliament, the Riksdag, the Migration Board estimates that the number of asylum applications will fall by 30 to 40 percent starting in 2011.

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