1 March 2018

Over 3,000 relocated asylum seekers from Greece and Italy are in place in Sweden

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Sweden has now fulfilled its commitment to the EU’s decision of 2015 that member states should take asylum seekers from Greece and Italy. 3,045 people have arrived here from the middle of June 2017 to the beginning of January 2018.
“Those who have come here have been very happy. They have been well looked after following a long and hard wait,” says Louise Weber, who has been leading the Swedish Migration Agency’s work on this assignment.

In September 2015 the EU decided that other EU states should relieve Greece and Italy, to where a large number of asylum seekers had made their way. Much of the relocation work has now been completed. 25 countries have received a total of 33,702 asylum seekers. Only around 1,300 cases are still open.

Diagram showing the twelve EU member states that have received most relocated asylum seekers.

Germany accepts the most asylum seekers

Germany has received the most relocated asylum seekers, almost 10,300. Then comes France, almost 5,000, and then Sweden, which has received just over 3,000.

It is the small northern EU states that have met most of their quota. Two countries - Poland and Hungary - have not received a single relocated asylum seeker.

Sweden had already received a small group of relocated asylum seekers in October 2015. Because of the large number of asylum seekers who arrived here in autumn 2015, Sweden was given a reprieve from taking any more until June 2017.

Photo showing the first group of relocated asylum seekers on their arrival in Luleå.

Last summer, the first group of relocated asylum seekers came to Luleå, where the mass media were waiting at the airport.

Almost only Syrians and Eritreans

In order to be considered for the relocation programme, asylum seekers should be among those nationalities that are granted residence permits in 75 per cent of cases according to the EU average. They also need to have applied for asylum in Greece or Italy. As far as Sweden is concerned, this means that almost all have been Syrians or Eritreans.

People who have been assessed as security risks have not been accepted in the relocation programme. The Italian and Greek authorities held only short interviews with the asylum seekers, however, equivalent to a registration interview.

When the asylum seekers came to Sweden, the Swedish Migration Agency staff investigated their cases thoroughly and new information sometimes appeared. When necessary, employees with various skills were involved, for example specialists in cases where the asylum seeker may have committed war crimes or other serious crimes, which means they were excluded from the right to be given asylum.

The asylum seekers have not been able to choose for themselves which country they have been relocated to, nor have the countries been able to decide which individuals they should accept. The matching of asylum seekers with receiving member states has been carried out by the Greek and Italian authorities on the basis of criteria such as family connections, language skills, etc.

In Sweden, asylum seekers have been assessed in accordance with the temporary law, the consequence of which is that the asylum seekers have generally been granted temporary residence permits.