Weary asylum seekers choose to leave Sweden

Increasing numbers of asylum seekers are leaving Sweden and returning to their home countries, with many tiring of long waits for their applications to be processed.

Weary asylum seekers choose to leave Sweden
Police supervise a queue of asylum seekers at Hyllie station near Malmö in November 2015. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Migration agency figures show a sharp drop in new asylum applications since the start of the year, when Sweden introduced ID checks at its borders. 

New statistics also indicate that more and more asylum seekers are electing to withdraw their applications, newspaper Sydsvenskan reports. After an influx of 160,000 asylum seekers last year, many applicants now face year-long waits before the migration agency gets to the paperwork. 

Kristina Ränner, a migration agency expert on asylum seekers who return home, told the newspaper: 

“We are getting signals that asylum seekers are tiring of long processing times and that things have not turned out as they expected in Sweden.”

Among asylum seekers from Iraq the tide has now turned so far that the number of people who have cancelled their applications this year (1,366) outnumbers the number of new asylum seekers from that country (1,243). 

A similar trend can be seen among Afghans. With statistics showing that only 18 percent of Afghans are likely to have their asylum applications approved, many are choosing to leave of their own accord. In all, 500 people from Afghanistan have withdrawn their applications this year. 

“The climate here in Sweden has toughened considerably. That leads to a new kind of decision,” said Kristina Ränner. 

Iraqi and Afghan citizens are entitled to apply for grants of 75,000 kronor ($9,300) per family to help them settle back into life in their home countries. Sweden only disburses the money once they have returned home.