Saturday, September 27, 2014
Asylum Backlog Prompts Seven Day Work Week
Via The Local: The Migration Board in southern Sweden has introduced a seven day working week for staff in order to cope with the backlog of asylum cases. At the branch of Migrationsverket in Malmö the new opening hours commenced on Saturday. So far this year a total of 58.000 people have applied for asylum in Sweden. "We have a large and increasing stream of asylum seekers. In order to take and register them all we are increasing the opening hours", unit manager of the Migration Board in Malmö Lisa Bergstrand, told the local Sydsvenskan newspaper. The office in the south employs 200 people, of which 76 are working solely on registering asylum cases. Last month The Local reported that Sweden can expect a record-breaking 100.000 refugees in 2014. Of the 58.000 who have applied for asylum in Sweden this year almost half (26.000) are Syrians. In September last year, Sweden granted permanent residence to all Syrian refugees, the first country in the EU to do so. At the Malmö office asylum seekers from more than 50 different countries were represented. Newspaper Sydsvenskan reported that Afghans and Somalis stand a 70 percent chance of being granted asylum, compared to 12 percent for Albanians and Bosnians. "I want to continue my studies here. First I want to learn Swedish and after that finish my literature studies", Fatima Rihawi from Syria told the newspaper. Due to the increase in cases the amount of time it takes to process an application from start to finish has shot up from 100 to 150 days. Many of those waiting in the Migration Board office were fleeing conflict zones in the Middle East. They said they were appalled by the recent beheadings carried out by ISIS. "IS are inhumane and criminals. They have nothing to do with Islam. We Muslims respect individual people", Asma Okla from Damascus told Sydsvenskan. Last year, Sweden took in almost 20 percent of the EU's asylum seekers, more than any other country in the union. In July The Local reported that Syrian refugees were being made to wait up for a year to get an embassy interview as the number of asylum applications have increased dramatically in the past year. "We have a special unit in Sweden that is just dealing with these cases of Syrian asylum seekers", Magnus Skarbo press information officer for the Swedish Migration Board told The Local at the time.