14 March 2017

In the summer, Sweden will receive almost 3,800 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece

In mid-June, Sweden will start receiving resettled asylum seekers from Greece and Italy. During the period of June 16 to September 26, 3,766 people are to be transferred here.
– Sweden will make an important difference for the people who find themselves in a difficult humanitarian situation in Greece and Italy. These countries also need relief, says Oskar Ekblad, Head of Section at the Swedish Migration Agency.

So far, 13,546 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy have been relocated to various EU countries and to Norway and Switzerland. Transfers of resettled people began happening at a greater pace last fall and continue in 2017. The two countries that have received the most resettled individuals are France (2,758) and Germany (2,626). However, there are small countries such as Malta, Luxembourg, Finland and the Baltic states that have so far met the greatest proportion of their resettlement quotas. Three countries – Hungary, Poland and Austria – have not yet taken a single resettled asylum seeker.

Sweden was given a one-year pause

Due to Sweden having received so many asylum seekers in the fall of 2015, the EU decided to give our country a one-year pause in accepting resettled asylum seekers. The pause ends on June 16 this year, and then it is time for us to receive our quota of people being resettled: 2,378 people from Greece and 1,388 from Italy.

When the EU made a decision on resettlement in September 2015, 160,000 asylum seekers were meant to be resettled from Greece and Italy over the course of two years. It has turned out that the number of asylum seekers included in the resettlement decision is lower than estimated, but it is unclear how many there are.

The plan is to have 250 asylum seekers flown to Sweden every week this summer. By September 26 at the latest, the intention is to have begun work on all the resettlements, according to the EU's decision. But, before they start, there are many preparations to be made. At the Swedish Migration Agency, preparation work is in full swing.

The Swedish Security Service checks all asylum seekers

The asylum seekers are not able to choose which country they are resettled to, and the countries that receive them cannot choose which individuals they will accept. Resettlements are cancelled only if there is a threat to the host country’s security, or strong grounds to suspect that an applicant has committed a war crime or crime against humanity. Here in Sweden, the Swedish Security Service performs checks on all asylum seekers before they are cleared to fly here.

The Swedish Migration Agency will examine the grounds for protection of resettled persons just as they do in other asylum cases. The only difference is that their cases will be examined without a longer waiting time.

– They have already waited a long time in difficult conditions in Greece and Italy. It is now important that they quickly receive decisions in their cases, so that they can move on with their lives, says Louise Weber with the Swedish Migration Agency, who is directing the Swedish resettlement efforts.

Eritreans and Syrians coming to Sweden

According to the EU’s decision, asylum seekers who are resettled from Italy and Greece will belong to nationalities that, by the EU average, are granted a residence permit in 75 percent of cases. These statistics are updated on a quarterly basis.

– This means that Sweden will primarily be receiving Syrians from Greece and Eritreans from Italy. There are two groups for which almost everyone is granted a permit, but the normal rules of the temporary law apply in their case as well. They are not treated as quota refugees who can get a residence permit immediately, Louise Weber says.

Quick relocation to the municipalities

Before asylum seekers fly to Sweden, they will receive information about Sweden and what awaits them here. The organization IOM** maintains this information, and also books the flights. In Sweden, it is intended that asylum seekers will quickly receive a decision in their asylum cases: usually no more than five business days after investigation. Those who receive a residence permit will then be prioritized to receive a placement in a municipality.

Louise Weber thinks that resettlements via the EU could be the beginning of a new method of helping vulnerable people. Additionally, a new proposal is being negotiated in the EU right now regarding the Dublin Regulation.

– Among other things, it is being proposed that, if a disproportionately large number of asylum seekers arrives in an EU Member State, a resettlement mechanism can automatically be activated to distribute asylum seekers among all Member States. However, it is uncertain how long the negotiations will take and what the final text will look like, says Caroline Klamer, Specialist from the Swedish Migration Agency’s International Affairs Department.

* Already in October 2015, Sweden accepted 39 Eritreans who were resettled as part of a pilot project.

** The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is part of the UN system and works on migration issues in close cooperation with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.