Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) pointed out that a Christian Iraqi who was deported last October was being readmitted to Sweden after he fled again following an attack.
“The UNHCR is very concerned that Sweden plans to send around 25 Iraqis back to Baghdad tomorrow,” she told journalists.
“We understand that a number of those scheduled for return belong to religious and ethnic groups targeted by violence in Iraq,” she added.
Fleming reiterated that the UNHCR believed they were entitled to protection as refugees, especially with the recent deterioration of conditions for minorities in Iraq.
Although she did not specifically refer to the incidents, sectarian violence has intensified in Iraq in recent weeks especially with a wave of attacks on Christians.
“We are troubled that our advice, including on the situations of minorities in Iraq, is not sufficiently taken into account by Sweden when reviewing negative decisions that were made in 2008 and 2009,” Fleming said.
Swedish authorities said Tuesday that about 70 people were detained when police broke up a protest against the deportation of Iraqis near the southwestern city of Gothenburg.
Later in the day, Swedish migration minister Tobias Billström rejected the UN’s criticism, as well as complaints from human rights group Amnesty International.
“This is nothing new. These are things that Amnesty has said on several occasions. It’s important to remember that we have a system in Sweden based on the rule of law which is involves authorities and courts hearing every individual case,” he told the TT news agency.
The UN refugee agency has over the past year repeatedly warned Britain and several Nordic nations not to send Iraqis back to central parts of Iraq because of persistent violence there.