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Sweden's school law hold-up harming young Afghans

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Sweden's school law hold-up harming young Afghans
'Ahmad' says he 'takes one day at a time'. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
13:31 CEST+02:00
Court challenges against a law letting rejected asylum seekers to stay in Sweden till they finish school have left thousands in a “completely debilitating” situation, the charity Save the Children has complained.
The so-called ‘gymnasium law’, which came into force on July 1 offered a fast track to a student residency permit for some 9,000, mostly Afghan, students so they could complete their upper secondary studies. 
 
But two out of Sweden’s four migration courts have refused to accept the law, arguing that it is too poorly framed to be applied, and now Sweden’s Migration Agency is only ruling on those applications under the new law which merit a rejection anyway. 
 
“They find themselves in a new and completely debilitating situation,” said Eva Harnesk, who runs the charity’s telephone support service. 
 
“For three year’s we’ve been observing how uncertainty about their future in Sweden affects these youths. The gymnasium law represented a really big hope for many of them.” 
 
 
The Migration Court of Appeal is expected to rule on whether the law should stand or be rejected, but no date for the decision has been given. 
 
Of the 197 calls Save the Children has received on its line for immigrants and asylum seekers since July, the overwhelming majority have been about the law. 
 
“Every day feels like a year. It’s a pain to have to wait to long,” Ahmad, one of the youths, told TT. 
 
He said that when he had fled his home in Iran, where he lived as a paperless Afghan migrant, he had little idea of where he was going. 
 
“I knew, like, absolutely nothing about Europe,” he said. “I thought it was like one country.” 
 
Harnesk said that several of the youths were homeless and stuggling to feed themselves during the wait, as they no longer quality for support from Sweden’s social services. 
 
She said there was also “enormous frustration” over the law’s arbitrary cut-off lines, noting that a boy who had to wait 13 months for his first ruling from the Migration Agency was not eligible to apply under the law, but if it had instead taken 15 months, he would have been 
 
“It’s become, as the youth say themselves, a lottery in the sense of who can stay and who can’t,” she said. 
 
The law was rushed through Sweden’s parliament by the red-green coalition government with the support of the Left Party and the Centre Party.  
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