Sweden sees drop in asylum seekers in 2017

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-07 22:28:53|Editor: Lifang
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STOCKHOLM, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- Sweden saw a drop in asylum seekers last year, compared to the two previous years, new figures from the Swedish Migration Agency showed.

In 2017, around 25,000 people sought asylum in Sweden, down from around 29,000 in 2016. In 2015, during the refugee crisis, there were around 163,000 asylum seekers, Swedish Radio reported Sunday, quoting statistics from the agency.

According to Fredrik Bengtsson of the Migration Agency, the fact that Sweden receives fewer asylum seekers now is a result of policy changes "at the national and EU level" rather than of improved conditions in unstable countries like Syria and Iraq. "Millions of people are still on the run. What has changed are the possibilities of making it to Sweden and Europe," Bengtsson told Swedish Radio on Sunday.

During the refugee crisis, the Migration Agency had a hard time keeping up with the influx in asylum applications and many migrants have had to wait a long time for their cases to be processed.

In the past two years, the Migration Agency has made over 200,000 asylum decisions and its prognosis submitted to the government in October, the Agency stated that the target for 2017 was to process 80,000 cases. That target was reached, according to a statement published on the Agency's website, and 56 percent of those 80,000 people were granted asylum.

A majority of asylum seekers in Sweden in 2017 were from Syria, followed by Iraq, Eritrea and Afghanistan. Over 1,000 of them were unaccompanied minors, mainly from Morocco, Afghanistan and Somalia.