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Sweden expects fewer refugees in near-term

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Sweden expects fewer refugees in near-term
16:28 CEST+02:00
The Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) said on Monday that there would likely be fewer asylum seekers in the coming years than previously expected, with stricter EU border controls cited as a reason for the downturn.

By the end of 2013, the agency expects that Sweden will have received 45,000 asylum applications - 9,000 fewer cases than previously expected. The new revised figure for 2014 is 48,000, down some 3,000 cases from an earlier forecast.

Yet migration statistics for refugee seekers remain historically high due to the conflict in Syria. Two years ago, the total number of refuge applications made in Sweden was 29,648, which rose to 43,887 in 2012.

The Migration Board is currently reviewing the Syrian conflict, and is expected to make a decision to grant refugees permanent residency in Sweden rather than temporary residences as has been the case up until now.

"We don't have a crystal ball that we look into," Migration Board spokesman Director Anders Danielsson told the TT news agency.

He added that the planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 could also have an impact on migration flows to Europe.

"I have to, as an agency head, make the judgement that we'll need to be prepared," he said about the situation in Afghanistan.

At present, the high number of refugee cases means his agency are experiencing delays in issuing other types of entry permits to Sweden. It has slowed down the reunification process in which immigrants apply to have their families join them, and also put the brakes on applications to become Swedish citizens.

"It's had to be deprioritized, which is quite simple to do when it comes to basic stuff like taking care of the people who need a roof over their head first," said Danielsson.

TT/The Local/at

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