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26/09/2016

EU to relocate Sweden asylum seekers

Justice & Home Affairs

EU to relocate Sweden asylum seekers

Dimitris Avramopoulos [European Commission]

Overwhelmed by incoming refugees, Sweden will soon benefit from a “relocation” programme for some of its asylum seekers, the European Commissioner of Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said yesterday (30 November).

“Sweden is among the group of member states that has welcome the highest number of refugees this year,” Avramopoulos said at a press conference in Stockholm, adding that Sweden had made “tremendous efforts”.

In September, the EU unveiled a plan for redistributing nearly 160,000 migrants and refugees from frontline states Italy and Greece although so far only a small number have been relocated.

>>Read: Sweden expects 190,000 asylum seekers in 2015

>>Read: Refugee crisis puts Sweden’s prime minister under pressure

In November, Sweden asked Brussels to relocate to other EU countries some of the asylum seekers arriving by the thousands in the Scandinavian country.

“Sweden has asked to become beneficiary of the relocation mechanism,” Avramopoulos said. “We completely understand this.”

The Commissioner added that in the future Sweden would be exempt from taking in migrants under the relocation programme.

In October the country welcomed 19 Eritreans from Italy as part of the EU efforts to redistribute migrants.

>>Read: Avramopoulos oversees first relocation of asylum seekers

The country of 9.8 million people received 80,000 asylum applications in the past two months alone, which would be the equivalent of 25 million asylum seekers for the entire EU, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said last week, after announcing that Sweden would drastically tighten its asylum rules.

After the country reinstated border controls earlier this month the number of new migrant arrivals has dropped by a third, according to Sweden’s migration agency.

The Swedish Migration Agency has decided to keep the locations of refugee housing facilities secret, following 21 being torched since March.

>> Read: Sweden to keep shelters for asylum seekers secret