20 February 2018

Sweden is the third largest recipient country of quota refugees

The Swedish refugee quota has increased from 1,900 to 5,000 places since 2016. Sweden is now the third largest recipient country. This year too, the focus of the quota is on refugees from Syria. In addition, large groups are to arrive from East Africa and along the central Mediterranean route in North Africa.

Tält i flyktingläger. @UNHCR/Ivor Picket

@UNHCR/Ivor Picket

Resettlement has increased around the world over several years, and it reached an historically high level in 2016, when 126,000 persons were brought to various different countries. Just as in previous years, the USA, Canada and Australia accounted for 90% of the resettlement.

Global resettlement decreased last year, chiefly because the USA reduced the number of refugees received into the country. In parallel with this, Canada has increased its resettlement, with plans to resettle 25,000 persons in 2017 and just as many in 2018. Several European countries have also stated that they intend to increase or continue resettlement at a high level. One example is the United Kingdom, which plans to receive 23,000 Syrians up until 2020.

Swedish increase is welcomed by UNHCR

Sweden’s increase in the number of places has made Sweden one of the largest recipient countries in the world. In 2017, Sweden was in third place in terms of the number of people we accepted after their cases were referred by the UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency. For some of these people, however, it won’t be until this year that they travel to Sweden. The UNHCR believes Sweden will also be the third largest recipient country overall in 2018. Only the USA and Canada receive more.

‘The UNHCR welcomes the fact that we are continuing to increase the Swedish refugee quota. This is especially appropriate now, when more people than ever – 1.2 million – need resettlement in another country’, says Oskar Ekblad, Head of Section at the Swedish Migration Agency.

The autumn 2015 settlement on migration policy included a decision that Sweden would gradually increase its refugee quota to 5,000 during the government’s time in office. Last year, the quota grew to 3,400 places, and this year, it is increasing by a further 1,600 places. Not since 1994, when the Bosnian war was taking place, has Sweden’s refugee quota been as high as this year’s.

The Swedish refugee quota allows the most exposed and vulnerable refugees living outside their countries of origin to come to Sweden, and for this to be arranged in a structured way. The UNHCR refers refugees who need to be given protection in a third country to the Swedish Migration Agency. The Swedish Migration Agency then carries out an assessment and decides which refugees will be able to come to Sweden. Read more about the Swedish refugee quota on the Swedish Migration Agency’s website.

How the 5,000 places are distributed

The distribution of this year’s 5,000 places follows a proposal from the UNHCR which has also taken root in the Ministry of Justice. The majority are to be used to receive refugees from the Middle East and North Africa fleeing from the war in Syria. A great deal of refugees will also be taken in from eastern Africa, the Horn of Africa and Asia (see the table). Moreover, as proposed by UNHCR, 900 places are reserved for emergency and priority cases. Resettlement is now also becoming an increasingly important measure to prevent people from risking their lives in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean in order to reach Europe. Therefore, Sweden will also take in a number of refugees from North Africa along the central Mediterranean route.

Preparations were started last summer to enable the Swedish Migration Agency to select and transport 5,000 persons over course of the year. 1,500 persons were selected in the autumn as part of the 5,000 mentioned above. They will be travelling to Sweden at the beginning of the year.

Quota refugees coming to Sweden

Areas of selection 2018