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Sweden ends sweeping ‘automatic asylum’ policy for Syrians

Sweden ends sweeping ‘automatic asylum’ policy for Syrians
Stockholm has tightened its lenient migration laws with regard to Syrian asylum seekers, saying that not all parts of the war-torn country are equally dangerous anymore.

Since the intensity of the war in Syria “has slightly decreased,” the new asylum seekers “will not automatically be granted protection in Sweden” any longer, the Swedish Migration Agency said on Thursday.

From now on, officials will assess each Syrian asylum seeker, considering what part of the country he or she came from. The residents of the six ‘more dangerous’ provinces – Aleppo, Raqqa, Idlib, Homs, Hama, and Deir ez-Zor – can still expect asylum to be granted automatically. That will not be true for people living in ‘less dangerous’ regions in the south, including Damascus, as well as in Latakia and Tartus on the Mediterranean coast, and the Kurdish-held northeast.

“Their individual reasons [for applying for asylum] are now much more important than they were before,” the agency’s director of legal affairs, Fredrik Beijer, said.

Now it will become very important who you are, where you come from, and what risk you are facing.

Sweden is often considered as one of the most refugee-friendly nations as, in recent years, it has admitted more asylum seekers per capita than any other EU country. The authorities have granted asylum to more than 115,000 people from Syria since 2011, after a civil war broke out there.

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There is an ongoing debate in Sweden whether the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa has contributed to a spike in certain crimes, like gang violence, rape and sexual assault.

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