Middle East News
Leaked cables: Sweden raised Iraqi refugee flow with US officials
Jan 21, 2011, 10:27 GMT
Stockholm - Two Swedish cabinet members raised concerns over the flow of refugees from Iraq in 2007 during talks with US officials, a Swedish daily said Friday, citing leaked US diplomatic cables.
While Sweden was prepared to receive asylum seekers there was need for 'a return agreement' with Iraq for refugees whose applications were rejected the ministers said, according to US diplomatic cables leaked by whistle-blower site WikiLeaks and quoted by the daily Svenska Dagbladet.
During a September 2007 visit to Iraq, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Tobias Billstrom, minister for migration and asylum policy, met with Iraqi officials and US embassy officials in Baghdad.
According to the US cable, Bildt and Billstrom mentioned concerns that many arrivals after 2003 were 'more difficult to assimilate.'
Contributing factors were that the asylum seekers were destitute, and often had poor education or lacked language or professional skills.
Iraq and Sweden in early 2008 agreed on a repatriation agreement stipulating that Iraqis whose applications were rejected should voluntarily be sent back to Iraq. Baghdad would guarantee their security.
Sweden in 2007 expected some 20,000 asylum seekers from Iraq and about three in four applications were likely to be approved, Bildt said according to the US cable.
In 2007 there were some 100,000 Iraqis in Sweden, a country of 9 million.
Bildt and Billstrom have declined to comment on the remarks attributed to them.
However, Bodil Ceballos of the opposition Greens said she would request parliament's Committee on the Constitution to summon them.
'Our government has talked a lot about human rights, but this violates them,' Ceballos told broadcaster TV4, adding that asylum applications were individual and not based on whether it was easy to assimilate someone.
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