Agency to wise up on religious minorities

Agency to wise up on religious minorities
Following recent criticism of the Sweden's decision to deport Christian Iraqis to Iraq, the government is set to demand that the Migration Board expand its knowledge of the conditions faced by religious minorities, reported Sveriges Radio's Ekot news programme on Wednesday.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, is among the slew of international organs which recently expressed dismay over the deportations of Christian Iraqis, pleading with Sweden to stop the deportation of a group of 20 people last week.

According to Ekot, the government is set to tighten requirements on the agency including the demand that increased competency should be included in the government’s annual letter of appropriation which is subject to a decision on Wednesday.

The matter concerns all refugees who form part of religious minorities and who seek asylum in Sweden but is the government action is reported to be in response to the specific case of Christian Iraqis.

Sweden has recently resumed deportations of failed asylum-seekers to Iraq and despite the storm of international criticism, Swedish migration minister Tobias Billström refused to get involved, saying that questions about Iraqi deportations should be directed to the Migration Board.

Billström’s press secretary, Edvard Unsgaard, told the TT news agency regarding the case of the 20 deported Iraqis, that the government does not make individual case assessments, which are instead left to agencies and independent courts.

The government and Riksdag are responsible for making laws and enforcing regulations however, and according to the Ekot report the new tighter guidelines on Wednesday are a reflection of this.

According to several independent observers in a still turbulent Iraq, Christians have been subjected to violence as a result of their faith. The UNHCR has identified an al-Qaeda attack on a Baghdad church in October as the start of a recent exodus of Christians from the city.

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