Sweden to accept all Syrian refugee applications

The first European country to offer blanket asylum to Syrians, as UN says number reaches 2m
Syrian refugees wait at Cilvegozu border gate to go back to Syria after car bombings at Reyhanli in Hatay, on May 14, 2013. The death toll in twin car bombings in a Turkish town near the Syrian border has increased to 50 after another body was recovered and a victim died in hospital, the health minister was quoted as saying on May 14. The attacks also provoked a backlash against Syrian refugees in Turkey, whose number is around 400,000 but government officials have repeatedly warned against provocations and said Turkey will maintain its open-door policy for Syrians fleeing the regimes crackdown. (AFP/Getty Images)
By Courtney Trenwith
Wed 04 Sep 2013 03:29 PM

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.

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