The refugee situation in Sweden and Europe

  • UNHCR I. Prickett

    A group of refugees arrive on Lesvos Photo: UNHCR/ I. Prickett

The number of people forcibly displaced by war, conflict or persecution in the world today is the highest since the Second World War. The UN refugee agency UNHCR estimates that over 60 million people are forcibly displaced within or outside their country’s borders. Millions of people are fleeing the brutal conflict in Syria, but conflict, political instability and unrest are also forcing many people in other parts of the Middle East, in Afghanistan and parts of Africa to leave their homes.

A record number of people have fled to Europe to seek protection and assistance. Almost one million persons have arrived in Europe to seek asylum in 2015. In May 2015 the European Commission adopted a European Migration Agenda in order to better manage the migration and refugee situation and achieve more balanced solidarity and burden-sharing among member states. Since then a number of measures have been adopted, including establishment of so called “hot spots” to enhance reception capacity of Greece and Italy and an agreement to relocate 160 000 people in need of international protection from the most affected Member States, as well as an action plan for returning people not in need of international protection. Read more on EU’s efforts to manage the migration and refugee situation here.

Sweden is one of the European countries that has received the highest number of asylum seekers in 2015. In 2015 190 000 persons are expected to apply for. A large proportion of those arriving in Sweden are unaccompanied children, mostly from Afghanistan. The Swedish asylum system is now facing major challenges. The Migration Board and the municipalities work under severe pressure to register and organize shelter for those who arrive and prepare long-term measures for their integration in society. During the past weeks the government has taken a number of decisions to create more order in the reception of refugees and to contain the cost increases. Read more about the Swedish Government's work with the refugee situation here.

Geneva is the hub in terms of international refugee and migration issues with a number of organizations with important mandates and functions in the field. UNHCR – which has its headquarters in Geneva and supervises the 1951 Refugee Convention – is dedicated to safeguard the protection and assistance to refugees around the world. In recent years UNHCR's budget has grown substantially and Sweden is one of the largest donors to the organization, increasing its core support to 715 MSEK in 2016. IOM has an important role to support member states and UNHCR in their efforts to protect and assist refugees, vulnerable migrants as well as in voluntary return of those not in need of international protection. The UN Office for Human Rights plays an important role in promoting and monitoring that the countries respect human rights of migrants. The Permanent Mission of Sweden in Geneva monitors and maintains close dialogue with these organizations on the ongoing refugee situation in Europe and Sweden. Learn more about their tasks on respective homepage - UNHCR, IOM and OHCHR.