Sweden scraps automatic asylum for Syrians after six years

The Local Sweden
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Sweden scraps automatic asylum for Syrians after six years
Syrians greeted by a Swedish migration officer in Malmö in 2015. Photo: Ola Torkelsson/TT

The Swedish Migration Agency will no longer issue residence permits to all refugees coming from Syria, ending a generous policy which over the last six years has seen over 100,000 Syrians granted asylum in the country.


In September 2013, Sweden was the first country in the world to open its arms fully to those fleeing the country's brutal civil war, with the agency ruling that all Syrians arriving in Sweden would be eligible for permanent residency. 
But on Thursday, the agency announced in a press release that it was bringing the policy to an end. 
"We had a very special situation in Syria and a special assessment which essentially meant that everyone was able to get a residency permit due to the general situation in the country," the agency's legal director Fredrik Beijer said in a video posted online. 
"We now assess that the situation in Syria has become slightly better - in any case we see that the number of deaths has decreased so much in Syria that the general risk of coming to harm has decreased. We must therefore return to the standard practice that we had before...and we are doing this now." 
In its new legal assessment, the agency said it now judged that people living in the Syrian capital of Damascus, and in the nearby southern provinces of Rif Dimashq, Dara’a, Suwayda, and Quneitra could no longer be considered at risk simply because of where they lived.
The same went for people living in Hassakah in the country's far northeastern corner, which is part of the de facto Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, or Rojava. Those living in and around the port city of Latakia were also not deemed eligible for asylum.  
The agency stressed that the new legal assessment would apply only to Syrians newly arriving in the country, and would not affect those waiting for a ruling or seeking to renew temporary residence permits. 
It did also not mean that those living in the more peaceful areas would necessarily be denied asylum. 
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"Their individual reasons are now much more important than they were before," Beijer explained. "Now it will become very important who you are, where you come from, and what risk you are facing." 

Below is a map that was included in the new assessment, showing the six districts in red whose inhabitants could still expect to receive asylum, and those in yellow where a decision was no longer effectively automatic. 


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