Last Updated: Thursday, 14 December 2017, 13:52 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Sweden

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Sweden , 25 May 2004, available at: [accessed 15 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

At the end of 2003, Sweden hosted around 25,600 refugees and asylum seekers. These included almost 24,000 asylum seekers with pending claims, 940 refugees resettled from overseas, around 640 persons granted asylum during the year, and 20 persons granted residence on protection grounds due to persecution based on gender or sexual orientation.

During the year, nearly 31,400 persons applied for asylum in Sweden, slightly fewer than in 2002 (33,000). The largest numbers came from Serbia and Montenegro (5,300), Somalia (3,100), Iraq (2,700), Bosnia (1,400), and Russia (1,400). Some 1,800 asylum seekers were stateless, mostly Palestinians.

The Swedish Migration Board, the initial decision-making authority, issued 31,300 asylum decisions during the year. Of those, the board recognized around 430 persons (about 1 percent) as refugees, while granting "residence permits on protection grounds" to about 460 persons and "residence permits on humanitarian grounds" to another 2,600. In addition, the board granted temporary protection (for "persons not eligible for refugee status") to some 830 people, the majority from Somalia (730). The board rejected any form of protection for about 22,700 persons. Some 31,200 cases were administratively closed during the year.

At the appeals level, the Alien Appeals Board (AAB) granted an additional 210 persons asylum, 82 persons residence permits on protection grounds, and 1,700 persons residence permits on humanitarian grounds.

New Developments

In September, the Dublin Convention entered into force in Sweden (See Dublin Convention box, World Refugee Survey 2003, p. 176). During the first few months of its implementation, Sweden found about 12 percent of all asylum seekers had applied for asylum in at least one other European Union state and rejected them under the Convention.

The Aliens Act expressly disallows decision makers to consider gender or sexual orientation as a social group for the purposes of granting asylum under the UN Refugee Convention. This position was reinforced in Sweden's gender persecution guidelines issued in March 2001. Therefore, refugees fleeing gender- and sexual orientation-based persecution do not receive formal refugee status in Sweden. In 2002, the Swedish government began an internal review of this policy in response to a September 2002 European Commission proposal that persecution on the grounds of gender and sexual preference should be considered under the social group clause of the UN Refugee Convention. Swedish authorities were still reviewing this issue at year's end.

In December, the government submitted a draft Aliens Act that proposed to abolish asylum seekers' rights to apply for a residence permit following an expulsion order, the reduction of daily financial support to asylum seekers who arrive without proper documents, and the introduction of carriers' liability. The act also stipulates that immigration authorities must specify to which country an alien is to be deported to prevent chain refoulement. In August, Swedish authorities mistakenly returned a family of rejected Armenian asylum seekers to Azerbaijan, a country at war with Armenia.

Sweden's resettlement quota for 2003 was 1,000 persons, and during the year, Sweden resettled 940 persons, mainly from Afghanistan (240), Liberia (100), Iraq (90), Iran (70), and Sierra Leone (70).

Some 560 unaccompanied asylum seeking children arrived in Sweden during the year, slightly higher than the 550 in 2002. However, only half were granted residence permits, unlike in previous years when almost all were permitted to stay.

Swedish authorities created 150 more detention spaces for asylum seekers during the year to relieve severe overcrowding in detention facilities and detained 4,200 asylum seekers for an average of 12 days in 2003, up from 3,100 in 2002.

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