Asylum rules tightened for Iraqi refugees

From Times Wire Reports

Sweden, which has welcomed more Iraqi refugees than has the United States or the rest of Europe, said it is tightening its asylum rules and will deport Iraqis whose applications are denied.

The announcement marked an abrupt change in the relatively lax rules that had made Sweden a haven for more than 18,000 Iraqis fleeing the chaos in their homeland. About 80% of Iraqi asylum applications were approved in Sweden last year.

“Sweden used to be positively unique. Now they’ve joined the rest of the gang,” said Bjarte Vandvik, secretary-general of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles.

The Bush administration said in February that it would accept 7,000 Iraqis by the end of September. Fewer than 800 have been allowed to enter so far.