Swedish Christians and civil society groups have launched a nationwide impact campaign to ensure that all unaccompanied migrant children are allowed to stay in Sweden, regardless of whether they have valid asylum reasons or not.
The campaign, called “Keep Sweden Together” was launched during a mass held in the church of Arvidsjaur, national broadcaster SVT reported.
The Church demands that migrants who have spent longer than a year in Sweden should be granted permanent residence permits, regardless of their asylum cases.
“The treatment of the unaccompanied migrants is a shame for the whole of Sweden,” organiser Mats Klockljung told SVT.
According to the campaign’s website, amnesty is presented not only as a humanitarian, but as a reasonable solution as well.
“Many of Sweden’s lone refugee children have been here for several years. Sweden’s treatment of these young people divides families, school classes, sports teams and congregations across the country….
“Besides, we all need young people. In the health care system, in the elderly care, in the service industry and in many other professions where there is a shortage of labour,” the campaign said.
The campaign chose a crocheted doll with a veil and a backpack as its symbol.
Prayers to stop the expulsions
In mid-January, the Church of Sweden held prayers throughout the country for migrants who are in the midst of the asylum process in the hope that God would stop the expulsions. In addition to calling on God, however, the church has also produced a glossary of Christian concepts in Dari (an Afghan dialect of Farsi) to improve opportunities for converts.
Earlier, Swedish priests were reported holding sermons in support of immigration, whereas Archbishop Antje Jackelén launched a Christmas petition calling on the authorities to eliminate the obstacles for the re-unification of migrant families.
The Church of Sweden was also accused of providing illegal immigrants with refuge.
In the peak year of 2015, a record 35,369 unaccompanied children applied for asylum.
The most popular countries of origin are Afghanistan, followed by Somalia, Syria, Eritrea and Iraq.
Starting from the following year, however, their numbers dropped sharply, mainly due to internal border controls between Denmark and Sweden and the EU’s migration agreement with Turkey.
(With information from Sputnik)
Correction 5/2/20 21:53 CET:
An original version of this article stated that the Church of Sweden is organising the campaign “Keep Sweden Together”.
The conveners of “Keep Sweden together” have written to us to clarify that although some Church of Sweden members and congregations are active in the initiative, the campaign itself is being run by a politically and religiously independent network called “Nu är det nog!” (“Enough is enough!”).
That political and religious independence is crucial to gain the widest-possible support among all strands of Swedish society for unaccompanied migrant children, a “Keep Sweden Together” representative explained.