The first European country to offer blanket asylum to Syrians, as UN says number reaches 2m
Sweden has announced it will give asylum to all Syrian refugees who apply, making it the first member of the European Union to do so, AFP has reported.
Asylum seekers will be given permanent resident status, the spokeswoman for Sweden’s migration agency, Annie Hoernblad, said.
“All Syrian asylum seekers who apply for asylum in Sweden will get it,” Hoernblad told AFP.
“The agency made this decision now because it believes the violence in Syria will not end in the near future.”
Previously Sweden only offered refugees a safe haven for three years and after each case had been assessed by the state.
The latest decision is likely to see many Syrians already in Sweden on provisional status apply for permanent status.
Those granted permanent status also will be allowed to bring their families to Sweden, Hoernblad said.
The United Nations estimates more than 2 million Syrians have fled the country as President Bashar Al Assad and opposition groups continue to fight.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres described the large number of Syrian refugees “the great tragedy of this century”.
Sweden has accepted 14,700 asylum seekers from Syria since the war broke out in 2012, according to AFP.
Swedish Migration Minister Tobias Billstroem called on other countries to recognise their duty to help the Syrian people.
“No other conflict on earth today is as terrible as the long and bloody conflict in Syria. That should make many politicians, inside and outside the EU, think about our responsibilities,” he told Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet.
In 2012, Sweden received 44,000 asylum requests, a 48 percent increase on 2011 and the highest number since 1992, at the time of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, AFP said.