Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers

'These are our future doctors, political scientists, singers. Keep that perspective'

While the EU continues to squabble over who should bear the greatest responsibility for asylum seekers arriving in Europe from areas of conflict, Sweden has asked its neighbour countries to regain a bit of perspective.

Speaking at a conference at the headquarters of the EU Commission in Sweden, minister for migration Morgan Johansson said too much of the debate on those making the risky journey across the Mediterranean focused on the “burden” of rehoming refugees.

Read more: Where has Britain's altruism gone?

Johansson referred to the PSG footballer and Swedish national team captain Zlatan Ibrahimović, whose mother and father were Bosnian and Croatian respectively, and the singer Loreen born to Moroccan immigrant parents.

“We are all so proud of Zlatan, and we have to remember that those who come here now may give us the Zlatan and Loreen of 2030,” Johansson said, according to a report in the Swedish edition of The Local. Stranded migrants spend night on rocks

According to statistics from the European Commission, Sweden accepted more than 30,000 of 39,900 applicants for asylum last year. Germany accepted 40,000 of almost 100,000 applications, while the UK took in 10,000 of 25,000.

The numbers, Johansson explained, are not huge. “Only 600,000 refugees have come to the EU,” he said. “It may sound like a lot, but how many people live in the EU? Something like 500 million. That's like one refugee per year being granted asylum to an island of 1,000 people.”

Many refugees – one in three of those fleeing Syria – has received higher education, it was noted at the conference.

”The refugees who come here today may be our future doctors, political scientists, and singers,” Johansson said. “We need to keep that perspective.”

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