Friday, December 14, 2007

Swedish Blindness on Somalia

Swedish authorities have recently ruled that failed asylum seekers from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, can be sent back as there is no "armed conflict" there.

The Swedish immigration agency said that Swedish law says there is no armed conflict in Mogadishu because rebels there do not control territory. Sweden automatically grants asylum to anyone from an area in which something "more like your traditional civil war" exists, where "rebellion forces have territorial control in a part of the city, the country or the region," senior immigration official Dan Eliasson told AFP news agency. "This is not the case in Mogadishu," said the general director of the Swedish Migration Board.

This after 17 people were killed in a mortar attack on Mogadishu's main market on Thursday. The UN says one million people are living rough in Somalia - including 60% of Mogadishu's population. About 200,000 people have fled the city in the last month. The UN's describes Somalia as the world's worst humanitarian disaster . Somali asylum seekers in Sweden can be sent home unless they prove lives personally under threat.

The immigration service also ruled last July that there was "no armed conflict in Iraq" on the same grounds, determining that Sweden could send Iraqi asylum seekers back to the war-torn country if they could not prove they would personally be threatened there.

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