The Stream

Young and alone in Sweden

A record number of unaccompanied minors turn to Sweden for asylum.

Nearly one thousand young refugees are missing and untraceable in Sweden. The overburdened system is struggling to deal with a massive wave of refugees seeking asylum. The Scandinavian country has already registered more than 8,000 unaccompanied foreign minors.

The influx is coming at a price. Swedish authorities are scrambling to find accommodation for the youth, budgets are being stretched, and social workers are unable to meet their needs. The country, famous for its progressive policies, is also facing a backlash from a growing minority who say teenage refugees are cheating the system and taking advantage of the welfare state.

Sweden is considered a top destination for young refugees mostly because of its liberal asylum laws. Under the current policies anyone under the age of 18 is considered to be a “child” and is not turned away. Young people are also treated relatively well during the process – given a stipend, enrolled in Swedish classes, counseling, tutoring and housed with guardians or in residential centres. Many minor refugees see asylum in Sweden as the first step in bringing their families to safety.

How is Sweden dealing with the rising numbers of young refugees? Should they be doing more or are they doing too much? Join the conversation at 1930GMT. 

On today’s episode, we speak to:

Benjamin Morakkabi
Board member, Swedish Association for Unaccompanied Minors

Nima Gholam Ali Pour @nimagap
Party member, Sweden Democrats

Mikael Ribbenvik @Migrationsverk
Deputy Director General, Swedish Migration Agency

Reza Javid @ensamkommandes
Volunteer, Association of Unaccompanied Minors

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.