Why Sweden could deport hundreds of refugee children

Why Sweden could deport hundreds of refugee children
A home for lone refugee children in Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
Several hundred lone refugee children could now be sent home from Sweden due to a change in how the rule on exceptional circumstances is applied when making asylum decisions.

Minors refused asylum in Sweden cannot be directly sent back to any country where there is no orderly system of processing them back in, but several are now due for deportation.

That is down to a new position adopted by the Swedish migration agency (Migrationsverket) from April this year onwards which alters how case workers should think when working with young people in the category.

The migration agency’s legal department has decreed that 16 and 17-year-olds who are not considered to have grounds for asylum but who are also not able to be sent home directly can be given temporary residence permits in Sweden before being deported when they turn 18.

According to the migration authority’s Director of Legal Affairs the agency has clarified when the rules about exceptionally distressful circumstances should be applied in cases of lone refugee children seeking asylum.

“We and our experts saw that our people in the authority were having a difficult time applying this rule, which often ended up in them giving out permanent residency due to especially distressing circumstances. What we now say is that the rule should not be automatically applied, but rather the individual case and the links to Sweden that the young person has should determine it,” Fredrik Beijer told Swedish news agency TT.

Swedish public service broadcaster Sveriges Radio spoke to one minor who had his asylum application rejected.

“The crux of the decision is that they will keep me here until I am 18 then send me back to Afghanistan,” 17-year-old Mohammad Nabavi told the station’s Ekot show.

Nabavi was born as a refugee in Iran and has never been in Afghanistan. According to the old application of the rule he and others in similar situations would likely have been allowed to stay in Sweden.