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Sweden ends asylum seeker returns to Greece

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Sweden ends asylum seeker returns to Greece
Swedish Migration Board Director General Dan Eliasson
07:31 CET+01:00
Sweden announced on Tuesday that it has stopped sending asylum seekers back to Greece, due to a "deteriorating" situation for the EU partner state's overwhelmed immigration system.

"We started from 5:00 pm to refrain from sending asylum seekers back to Greece," said Dan Eliasson, director general of the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket).

"The reasons are, firstly, that the situation in Greece is deteriorating constantly for asylum seekers," he said.

"Secondly, the European Court for Human Rights has asked member states to refrain from sending asylum seekers back to Greece."

Under the European Union's much-criticised Dublin II regulation, illegal immigrants must be sent back to the country where they entered the EU.

About 75 percent of more than 40,000 people caught illegally entering the EU in the first half of this year did so through Greece.

Eliasson said the decision would affect about 100 people who would otherwise have been returned to Greece.

"We have not decided what to do with them," he said.

Sweden follows Norway and Austria in this decision.

On Tuesday, a force of 175 EU guards began arriving at the porous Greek-Turkish border, seen as the primary entry point for illegal immigrants into the EU.

Greece has sustained continued criticism in recent months over its treatment of new arrivals with a harsh regime and sub-standard housing in what critics have argued appeared a deliberate attempt to scare asylum seekers away from its shores.

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