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Sweden braces for asylum application spike

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Sweden braces for asylum application spike
08:56 CEST+02:00
Swedish migration authorities have ratcheted up their forecast for the number of asylum seekers and labour migrants who will arrive in Sweden during 2012.

Previously, the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) estimated that 31,000 people would seek asylum in Sweden this year.

But in a forecast submitted to the government on Thursday, the agency raised its forecast by nearly 10 percent, estimating 34,000 asylum seekers will come to Sweden by the end of 2012.

The agency also expects a greater number of immigrants from Somalia to come to Sweden on the basis of family ties and has thus requested an increase in funding from the government.

"We've seen for a long time that there is an increase underway and there is continued unrest in Afghanistan and Somalia," said Oskar Ekblad, division head for asylum cases at the Migration Board, told the TT news agency.

According to the agency's new forecast, there have been more asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Somalia this year compared to the same period in 2011. There has also been an increase in the number of people from Syria seeking asylum in Sweden.

In addition, a migration court ruling from January that makes it easier for family members of recently arrived refugees to stay in Sweden is expected to cause more family members of recently arrived refugees from Somalia to seek residency in Sweden.

While the Migration Board had previously estimated it would receive 18,500 applications from Somalia last year, it now expects to receive 20,000 applications in 2012.

"Sweden is clearly becoming a destination country," said Ekblad.

The agency also expects an increase in labour immigration in 2012.

As a result of the expected increase in refugee and immigration applications, the Migration Board has requested additional funding of 65 million kronor ($9.6 million)for this year, and 214 million kronor for 2013.

"We need to be able to receive and assess the applications," said Ekblad.

TT/The Local/dl

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