“Let’s be very clear about one thing: we’re never going back to 2015,” he told Dagens Nyheter on Thursday. “Sweden will not end up there again.”
Around 163,000 people sought asylum in Sweden in 2015, including around 51,000 from Syria and 42,000 from Afghanistan. A report by the Aftonbladet newspaper in 2019 which looked at the asylum applications that had been tried found that only around half were allowed to stay, with 60,500 people granted permanent residency, 24,000 granted temporary residency at the time, and 47,000 people being rejected.
Campaigners have been urging Sweden to halt deportations to Afghanistan for years, and the Migration Agency did so last month. But Löfven said that the government would not offer an amnesty to Afghan asylum seekers who are in Sweden and currently waiting for a decision on their application.
The government has faced criticism over not acting quicker to help its local employees in Afghanistan evacuate since the Taliban took over. Swedish citizens who worked at the Swedish embassy flew out on Sunday, but Afghans working for Sweden remained.
Löfven said that the plan had originally been to help them evacuate on Tuesday, but then the Taliban swept into the capital, Kabul, on Sunday. Footage has been shared in social media and by newspapers of hundreds of people on the tarmac of Kabul airport, desperately trying to get onto an international flight out of the country.
“This happened very fast. You make it easy for yourself if you say it was clumsy – no one predicted it. There was a plan but it could not be carried out because everything turned upside down, the conditions changed,” Löfven told Dagens Nyheter.
A group of local employees on Monday wrote an email to the Expressen newspaper complaining that they had been abandoned by their Swedish former colleagues, who they said had blocked their email addresses and were not answering their calls.
“We do not know what is happening and they left us in the office while we were working,” the email read. “We have tried to contact them but they do not answer our calls and they have blocked our email addresses.”
“Please write about us, our lives are in danger and Sweden should leave its bureaucratic system and prioritise our lives before its laws.”
The group said that the lives of embassy staff were in danger and that the Taliban was already “searching from home to home looking for those who had been employed by foreign embassies and their families”.
Sweden has said it is sending a Herkules transport aircraft to be on standby close to Afghanistan, to be ready to fly in and evacuate more people as soon as it can.