The cost to the Swedish state of receiving asylum seekers is set to rise to 12.2 billion kronor ($1.7 billion) by 2010, double the 2005 figure. The rise is largely due to more generous new laws introduced last year, which has led in particular to a large number of Iraqis being allowed to stay.
The introduction last April of the 2005 Aliens Act coincided with a large rise in the number of asylum seekers granted Swedish residence permits, according to a report by news agency TT.
Between 2003 and 2005, before the Aliens Act came into force, 13 percent of those who applied for residency were allowed to stay. In 2006 that figure was 42 percent. The Swedish Board of Migration predicts that figures of around 40 percent will continue between 2007 and 2010. At the same time, the number of applicants has more than doubled since 2005.
“These results are not due to the law in itself being more generous,” said Krister Isaksson, chief analyst at the Board of Migration.
Very few of those who apply are granted asylum. Instead, they are allowed to stay on “exceptional compassionate grounds”, a term that replaced the term “humanitarian grounds.”
Iraqis account for most of the rise in the number of people allowed to stay in Sweden. They account for half of applications, and Sweden’s immigration policies have much more generous to them as the security situation there has deteriorated.
Fredrik Malm, the Liberals’ spokesman on refugee issues, said that money should be available regardless of whether some years see more refugees than others.
“We need to improve integration in Swedish society and ensure that more get jobs,” he said, adding that in the long term refugees will be an asset for Sweden.
Social Democrat Thomas Eneroth, deputy chairman of the social insurance committee of the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament, criticized the current government for “not having been prepared” for developments in Iraq. The former government had been prepared before the Iraq war, he said, although large numbers of refugees did not come to Britain at that time.
Eneroth criticized the decision by the current government to abolish the Swedish Integration Board (Integrationsverket).
“This hardly creates good conditions for receiving [immigrants],” he said.