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Jump in solo children seeking Swedish asylum

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Jump in solo children seeking Swedish asylum
A playground at Märsta immigration centre in Sweden. Maja Suslin/TT
15:52 CEST+02:00
A record 1447 unaccompanied children sought asylum in Sweden last month, figures from the Swedish Migration Board have revealed.

Never before have so many under-18s arrived in Scandinavia without their parents, the migration board told Swedish media on Friday.

The government agency revealed to newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) that 2015 has so far seen the number of unaccompanied arrivals soar by 93 percent compared with the first six months of last year.

It also confirmed that 1447 solo child travellers had arrived in June, the most ever recorded during a single month.

According to DN, the agency's estimate in April that 8000 unaccompanied minors would arrive in Sweden during the course of the year is set to be a dramatic underestimate, with nearly 12,000 expected to travel to the Nordic country by the end of December. A revised official prediction is scheduled to be released later this month.

READ ALSO: Sweden in spotlight for record asylum share

“A few years ago, people thought it was a lot when 300 children came a month. Now, just as many come in a week,” Terje Torvik, a spokesperson for the Swedish Migration Board, told Dagens Nyheter.

The agency said that most of the children were teenage boys travelling on their own from Afghanistan, Somalia and Eritrea.

Sweden currently takes in more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU nation.

The Swedish Migration Board said on Friday that almost a third of the 25,000 children who arrived in Europe unaccompanied in 2014 had turned up in Sweden.

“The image is that we in Sweden are relatively more generous towards children. Another reason is that many of the children already have a network of relatives here,” said Helena Carlestam, another spokesperson for the government agency.

According to a recent report by campaign group Amnesty International, there have not been so many refugees in Europe since the Second World War. Globally it suggests that some 50 million people have fled their homes.

The Swedish Migration Board's figures come as immigration remains a highly divisive topic at Almedalen, Sweden's annual politics forum, which is taking place on the island of Gotland this week.

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