Sweden's New Asylum Policy

Stockholm (AINA) -- Two years ago Sweden was reported to be the most humanitarian country in the Western world for Iraqi refugees, but since last year the Scandinavian country has changed its policy. Most of the Iraqi refugees are now being deported, many of them by force. No matter their reasons for applying for asylum. I have for four months now gone through more than fifty cases, I have interviewed the refugees, gone through all the documents in their cases. Below is one of many tragedies.

A twelve year-old Iraqi boy, Ronsy, has been missing for the past 17 days. He ran away after his family received the final decision that they will be deported from Sweden. The only trace he had left behind was a letter written to their representative at the social services office in Spånga, Sweden, a suburb of Stockholm. On the evening of the 23rd May, he asked his mother for a thousand Swedish kronor. The money, he told her, was to go to a football team he played on. The next day he was gone. When his mother contacted the school the day of his disappearance, she was informed that he hadn't been there at all.

A priest who assists refugee families stated: "Ronsy is only twelve years old but thinks like a grown man. He has heard that Sweden physically deports Iraqis and he asked if it was true that they can't deport a family if the police cannot find one of the children. He was scared to death to return to Iraq both for the sake of himself and his family."

I met his mother, Janfia Toma Slio, at a community house for women. She shivers and cries. Janfia Slio is an Assyrian from Baghdad, she belongs to the Chaldean-Catholic Church. Her husband was a barber in Baghdad's Christian neighbourhood, Dora. After Saddam's fall from power the Islamist insurgents persecuted their Christian countrymen. They threatened to kill her husband if he didn't close his barber shop. The Islamists viewed his business as a part of the decadent, Satanic culture of the western world. Her husband sent his pregnant wife and their two sons to Turkey where they met a smuggler who, with false travelling papers, put them on a plane to Sweden. The plan was that he husband would follow them later.

What they do know is that he got as far as Turkey. One of his friends wrote a letter to the family and told them that he was afraid that he had died after a smuggler's boat had capsized. Janfia Slio has no idea if this is true. The only thing certain is that they have not heard from him in over a year. During that time she has fought to remain in Sweden -- to no avail!

The family's judicial representative, Helen Westlund, is very sad that the immigration authorities have not seen fit to recognize this family's special circumstances. "Several international organizations, among including UNHCR, maintain that non-Muslims should not be sent back to Iraq but the Swedish immigration authorities neither listen or obey," she says. "Above all one should not deport widows or single women to Iraq but, of course, they couldn't care less. I do not know what more I can do…"

Joakin Hugoson, a lawyer representing the judicial administration within the Swedish Migration Authority states: "When we judge whether or not a person should receive protection we have to apply Swedish law. It can, in certain cases, lead to a different outcome than what the UNHCR recommends. On the other hand we are nearly always in agreement with UNHCR as to what the situation is in the person's home country. Without question, if one is a Christian in Iraq one belongs to a vulnerable group, but Swedish law is developed so that we make a judgement of just those reasons that apply to the person in question."

Janfia Slio says that the Migration Authority's statement is contradictory and peculiar, but right now she can only think about getting her son back. During his entire time in Sweden he has felt very bad both physically and mentally. He had become a little more hopeful the past few months. He played on a football team and made many friends. They called him Ronaldo after the Brazilian football star. His mother shows us photos of her son and then breaks into tears.

"My son, my dear child has run away so as to save me and his younger brothers. Please, please help me to find him. My dear brave Ronsy."

Ronsy's letter to the family's representative concludes: "Forgive me for running away but you have no idea of what I feel in my heart. Goodbye from Ronsy-Ronaldo

He is wanted by the police. Call +46 114 14 if you see him or know where he can be found.

By Nuri Kino

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