Stockholm—Refugees in Sweden may be purposely abusing or neglecting their children to ensure that they receive care in that country and thereby avoid deportation, said news reports on Tuesday.
The Swedish migration board said it had filed 13 reports of alleged child abuse concerning refugees with police.
The cases concerned children in a larger group of more than 400 young asylum seekers who were found earlier this year to be suffering from a mysterious apathy phenomenon and dubbed “apathetic refugee children” in the media.
Director general of the agency, Janna Valik, said: “We have just reported that these children are faring badly. The rest is up to the police to investigate.”
According to a government-commissioned report, more than 400 refugee children facing possible deportation from the Scandinavian country have fallen ill since 2003 and stopped eating, talking and moving.
Parents sabotage IV drips
Dramatic footage has been broadcast of children lying lifeless in their beds, some staring aimlessly at the ceiling and being fed through a tube.
In the most-extreme cases they have regressed into a psychological state of total paralysis that can last a year or more.
The TT news agency cited examples of parents at a treatment facility who were seen pouring out the contents of their child’s intravenous nutritional supplement, and two incidents where apathetic children were taken to hospital emergency rooms after being poisoned.
Suspected sexual abuse
Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet said there were suspicions that parents were “purposely abusing their children so the family could more easily get a residency permit”.
It cited suspected sexual abuse and cases where the children were not the parents’ biological offspring, but children taken off the street and brought with them to Sweden to better their chances of a residency permit.
However, several doctors quoted in the media on Tuesday expressed doubts that refugee parents would purposely hurt their children or be able to manipulate their health situation.