Sweden will no longer issue “residence permits” to all Syrian refugees, terminating a policy that allowed over 100,000 asylum-seekers to resettle in the country.
The policy, championed by left-wing parties, had been in effect since 2013.
Right-leaning parties that opposed the policy change pointed out its flaws, raising concerns that “no conflict is permanent but still we give them permanent residence”.
“[F]or one immigrant that comes here we could help hundreds, maybe thousands of people, [in and around Syria] with food, with medicine, with everything” claimed former Sweden Democrat party spokesman Kent Ekeroth in 2013.
The policy change results from a reassessment of safety levels in different Syrian provinces: the entire country is no longer regarded to be universally “at risk” due to its civil war.
Those living in the Syrian capital of Damascus and the adjacent southern provinces of Quneitra, Rif Dimashq, Suwayda, and Dara’a as well as Northern provinces such as Hassakah and Latakia will no longer automatically be granted asylum.
Certain provinces including Aleppo, Idlib, and Raqqa are still classified as having “internal armed conflict where everyone risks being affected” meaning residents of those areas will still be granted asylum indiscriminately.
The Swedish Migration agency’s press release attributes this change in classification to the fact that “the number of deaths has decreased so much” as well as the “general risk of coming to harm has decreased” in certain provinces.
It continues: “Everyone was able to get a residence permit due to the general situation in Syria as being in the territory entailed a risk. We now assess that the security situation has become slightly better.
The policy is not retroactive, as those waiting for immigration-related court hearings or wanting to renew temporary residence permits are unaffected: “This affects only new applicants for asylum. Those who are already here in Sweden and who have received protection status as a refugee or subsidiary protection will retain that status”.
Migration has long been a contentious issue in Sweden, particularly from non-Western countries.
And the number of Syrian refugees in Sweden is extremely high. Even former U.S. President Obama’s target for Syrian refugees was 10,000; Sweden has ten times that. The country often accepts the most migrants per capita compared to the rest Europe.
Consequently, no-go zones, or what the media and police like to refer to as “vulnerable”, “especially vulnerable”, or “risk areas” have become increasingly prevalent.
Bombing and explosions have nearly doubled this year, animal cruelty in “immigrant-dense” areas has increased, and even blood supply in hospitals has been running low due to the dramatic increase in stabbings.
Furthermore, the exorbitant cost of migration to taxpayers as well as the failure of many migrants to assimilate have caused discontent among native-born Swedes.
It’s not hard to see why a recent poll showed that “over half of Swedes reject taking more refugees”.
And this policy change appears to be a step in the right direction.
Natalie Winters is a freelance reporter