17:33 GMT15 June 2021
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    Europe's Refugee and Migrant Crisis (200)
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    The number of suspected cases of human trafficking in Sweden continues to rise. Most often, the victims are sexually exploited or used as an illegal labor force.

    Despite Sweden's humanitarian and police efforts, human trafficking continues to rise, according to the recent report from the Migration Board. In the first half of 2017, 231 cases were reported, up from 163 during the same period last year.

    Moreover, 46 of this year's cases feature minors, with sexual exploitation in 118 cases and forced labor in yet another 64. According to the authority, human trafficking is being exposed in connection with asylum procedures and issuing work permits.

    "The increase has been going on for several years," Migration Board anti-trafficking coordinator Kajsa Törnqvist Netz said, partly ascribing the increase in her agency's improved capability to discover suspicious cases.

    According to Törnqvist Netz, the authorities have been investing in training, better equipment and more effective detection methods, which have resulted in the increased awareness of the personnel.

    The major increase is largely ascribed to the migrant crisis of 2015, as the Swedish Migration Board is still saddled with investigating cases from that year.

    Furthermore, Cubans have emerged as a previously unknown group in this context. In the first half of 2017, 98 Cubans sought asylum in Sweden, which is a radical increase from almost non-existent figures.

    "Among the Cubans, we have identified a relatively large proportion of suspected victims of human trafficking. It relates to both women and men. Also, we suspect both sexual exploitation and abuse as labor force," Kajsa Törnqvist Netz said.

    Due to the influx of Cubans, the Swedish Migration Board has already established special contact with police. According to Törnqvist Netz, it has to be clarified how exactly these people entered the Schengen area, as only a handful of them had a valid visa when applying for asylum in Sweden.

    Furthermore, Sweden is experiencing increased pressure from displeased refugees who have been denied asylum in Finland and are intending to try their luck in Sweden. On Tuesday, dozens of dissatisfied migrants reportedly crossed the border between Tornio and Haparanda on foot, without being stopped by the authorities.

    "There are a thousand more people in Kemi [borderline town and municipality], who are heading to Sweden," an Iraqi man told the Swedish news outlet Fria Tider. By his own admission, the man has been waiting for asylum for two years and became exasperated. He also stated that his plan is to go to France instead, declaring that he would never return to his native Iraq.

    The group of immigrants, mainly consisting of Iraqis was received by the Migration Board staff and bussed to the town of Boden. Carolina Pedersen of the Border Police told Swedish Radio that it is yet to be established whether the migrants will be handled in accordance to the Dublin Regulation and thus sent back to Finland.

    Unlike Sweden, which is generally considered more generous in its asylum policy, Finland now rejects the majority of asylum requests from Iraqis, Afghans and Somalis. The only exceptions being made for refugees from especially troubled or war-torn areas.

    The influx is, however, predicted to increase, as the European Union has ordered Sweden to end its practice of border controls by mid-November, arguing that the reasons for putting them into place do not exist anymore. On Wednesday, EU Migrant Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the EU will not allow Sweden to extend its border control with Denmark, the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported.

    At the height of the 2015 European migrant crisis, Sweden was, alongside Denmark, Germany, Austria and Norway, granted a temporary exception from the Schengen free movement clause due to the huge influx of asylum-seeking migrants. After several extensions, this exception is now coming to an end.

    Europe's Refugee and Migrant Crisis (200)


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