Swedes urge Syrians not to rush to embassies

Swedes urge Syrians not to rush to embassies
Sweden on Friday advised Syrians against rushing to its embassies in a futile bid for asylum, saying only those travelling to the Scandinavian country could apply.

In early September, Sweden became the first and so far only European Union country to promise blanket asylum to all Syrian citizens already within Sweden

and who apply, citing the violence in the Middle Eastern country.

“More Syrians have come to Sweden’s embassies in the countries around Syria to ask for asylum,” said Camilla Åkesson Lindblom, a spokeswoman for the Swedish foreign ministry.

“However, you cannot apply for asylum at the embassies,” she added.

No figure was given for the number of asylum seekers at Swedish embassies in recent days, but the foreign ministry said it was reinforcing its diplomatic staff overseas to help handle the situation.

Sophia Öhvall Lindberg, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Migration Board, said that Syrians can only apply for asylum after they have reached Sweden.

“In the period from September 4 to 11, we have received 2,000 applications for asylum, which is really a lot, including 700 from Syrians,” she said, adding that during normal weeks Sweden only gets 600 to 800 applications from all nationalities.

“It’s too early to say if it’s a consequence of the decision made the previous week (granting asylum to all Syrians applying for it in Sweden),” she said.

In August, a total of 4,804 people, including Syrians and other nationalities, applied for asylum in Sweden, up 17 percent from July.

Since early 2012, Sweden has received about 14,700 asylum applications from Syrians.

Swedish embassies are only allowed to take applications for visas and family reunions.

AFP/The Local/pvs

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