Unaccompanied migrant minors are facing growing risks in Sweden

A viral video showing one woman's protest against the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker has put Sweden's stance on Afghanistan in the global spotlight. Here's what one teenager, who arrived in Sweden three years ago from Afghanistan, has to say.

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards NewsMavens, Sweden
Unaccompanied migrant minors are facing growing risks in Sweden - NewsMavens
Boy. Pixabay.

Why this story matters:

In 2015, Sweden took in huge numbers of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, including tens of thousands of under-18-year-olds from Afghanistan, who arrived alone. Many have been living in a kind of limbo since then, waiting for a decision on their case, while a large number have had their asylum application refused and been ordered to leave Sweden.

Sweden's stance on Afghanistan has been in the spotlight over the past week following a livestreamed protest in which a student boarded the same plane as an Afghan man due to be deported and refused to sit down until he was let off the plane. 

She is one of many protesters who have been calling for a change in how Sweden deals with Afghan asylum seekers -- currently, the Migration Agency considers some parts of the country as safe to return people to, despite the Foreign Office advising against all travel.

"For nearly three years a large number of us have lived in uncertainty and hopelessness," writes 19-year-old Azim Mohammadi in this piece. Recent studies have shown that the group faces a worryingly high suicide risk, and Mohammadi has firsthand experience of that: one of his best friends took his own life at the age of 16.

Like many campaigners and some politicians, Mohammadi is calling for an 'amnesty' for those asylum seekers who had their applications rejected and have been in Sweden for over a year.

With immigration one of the key issues for voters ahead of September's election, it's important to hear from those affected most by government policy.

Details from the story:

  • Sweden took in around 35,000 unaccompanied migrant minors in the autumn of 2015, a large number of them from Afghanistan
  • Rules were then tightened in November 2015 as Sweden struggled to cope with the huge volume of arrivals
  • A recent report showed that last year, 12 people who arrived in Sweden as unaccompanied migrant minors killed themselves, and there were 126 suicide attempts in total
  • A so-called 'high school law' which came into effect in July was aimed at allowing those who arrived as minors the chance to stay in Sweden to finish their studies
  • However, few of the migrants have been able to benefit from this, partly because many of them -- having lived all their lives as refugees -- can't prove their age
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Karolina Zbytniewska
Karolina ZbytniewskaEuractiv, Europe
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