If you are a refugee seeking asylum in the world, Sweden may not be the country to look to.
In 2015, Sweden accepted over 163,000 refugees, making Sweden the largest per capita recipient. This was due to the Swedish policy of having an open border, taking all those seeking asylum.
Beginning at the start of 2016, this policy changed. The government “now considers that the current situation, with a large number of people entering the country in a relatively short time, poses a grave threat to public order and national security,” according to The Guardian. This was in part a knee-jerk reaction to an attack where an asylum seeker from Uzbekistan killed four people.
The drastic shift in policy is now being felt by those that are most vulnerable. In order to minimize the number of refugees accepted, Sweden has to step up deportations. Over 7,500 Asylum applications have already been rejected in 2017 through May alone, according to the Swedish Migration website.
To exacerbate the crisis, many of those that are seeking to become full-time residents in Sweden came as unaccompanied children, meaning they have no ties to anyone back in Afghanistan/Middle East. Over 23,000 unaccompanied minors came from Afghanistan, and unless their families can be contacted, they can not be deported. The issue comes when these refugees turn eighteen. When this happens, they are treated as adults and therefore can be expelled with no connection either with the people or even the location of Afghanistan.
Swedish officials have taken the aggressive and deplorable step of bringing in medical experts to try and evaluate asylum seekers’ ages in the name of trying to root out fraudulent age claims. When these eighteen-year-olds are deported, they are brought to Kabul even if they came from various rural areas in Afghanistan, partially due to the instability of these regions. Despite this, the war-torn country has been ruled safe for return.
The irony of such a statement is made abundantly clear through the numbers. According to the United Nations, over 3,400 civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2016. 7,920 were wounded. Although the Swedes claims that the situation in Afghanistan is well enough to return these refugees, the country is arguably in as bad of shape as it has ever been. Between factions of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban, and government forces that lack stability or legitimacy, the country is being pulled at each of its limbs.
One terrorist attack was enough to ruin what Sweden was becoming along with Germany: a beacon of hope in ingratiating and welcoming all refugees seeking to find peace. Now it is resulting in eighteen-year-old kids being moved back into a country that they likely have no attachment. In the name of security, the Swedish government has taken away the feeling of safety from thousands of desperate refugees just seeking to find a better life.