08:55 GMT +324 February 2019
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    Refugees in Sweden (photo used for illustration purpose)

    Human Trafficking to Sweden Reaches High Despite Record Naturalization Rate

    © REUTERS / Ints Kalnins
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    Europe's Refugee and Migrant Crisis (175)

    The number of cases of human trafficking in Sweden has reached a record high after increasing 30 percent in 2017; at the same time, an unparalleled number of legal applicants received citizenship rights in the Nordic country.

    In 2017, Sweden's Migration Board received 444 reports of human trafficking, 103 more cases than in the previous year, according to Kajsa Törnqvist Netz, the central coordinator against human trafficking at the Migration Board's quality department.

    Of these, 213 cases involved human trafficking for sexual purposes, while another 161 victims were brought to Sweden for forced labor. A total of 256 of the victims were women, while 188 were men. Furthermore, the trafficking involved 107 minors, including 41 girls and 66 boys.

    Once again, Nigeria produced the highest number of victims (48), followed by Afghanistan (41), Vietnam (33), Cuba (30), Iraq (18), Morocco (16) and Thailand (12).

    ​The Migration Board attributed the increase in human trafficking to a drop in the number of asylum seekers in 2017. However, cases of human trafficking were identified in other categories, such as work permits and the extension of visits. The staff's increased proficiency in detecting suspicious cases was claimed to be another reason for the increase, as the authorities put an emphasis on employee training.

    "However, it is unfortunate that the number of victims of trafficking in human beings is increasing," the Migration Board wrote.

    At the same time, Sweden reached a record high in the number of foreign national receiving Swedish citizenship by application. In 2017, 55,420 "new Swedes" received their citizenship rights, which is 15 percent more than in 2016.

    In 2017, the acceptance rate of applications reached 83 percent. Syria became the most common country of origin of the new Swedish citizens, effectively surpassing Somalia. Under the Citizenship Act, applicants are not required prove their language skills, self-sufficiency or integration. For those with refugee status, only a two-year stay with proven identity is required.

    READ ALSO: Minister Says Sweden Is Full, Advises Migrants to Seek Elsewhere

    ​Surprisingly, Georgia has become a major supplier of asylum seekers to Sweden after gaining the ability to travel freely in the Schengen Area in March 2017. After a marked increase in late autumn, Georgians are currently the second-largest group of asylum seekers in Sweden, with Germany, Switzerland and Austria all seeing an increase in Georgians as well. The Swedish Migration Board attributed this to employment opportunities in Sweden, coupled with an adverse economic situation in Georgia, and forecasted a continuation of the trend in the near future.

    In recent years, Sweden, a nation of 10 million, received over 200,000 asylum seekers, predominantly from the Middle East as well as North and East Africa.

    READ ALSO: Swedish Church Accused of Peddling 'Immigration Propaganda' During X-Mas Worship

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