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Project July 3, 2017

Alone and In Limbo: Child Refugees in Sweden


A Swedish flag aloft in Stockholm. Image by Amy Russo. Sweden, 2017.
A Swedish flag aloft in Stockholm. Image by Amy Russo. Sweden, 2017.

Once known for its open-arms immigration policies, Sweden has accepted more refugees per capita than any other European country. However, the tide has turned on asylum seekers, and securing residency permits is tougher than ever. Meanwhile suspicion of child refugees has led to the implementation of an age exam requiring dental X-rays and an MRI of the knee joint to approximate the ages of those seeking shelter.

Those given a place in asylum centers are often coping with the trauma of war, but the possibility of deportation is a reminder they may not yet be safe. Centers are backlogged with unprocessed asylum applications and some suspect the delay may be a strategic move to deport minors once they reach 18. Either way, refugees are left in a protracted limbo.

With asylum regulations tightening, changing national mood has led the populist Sweden Democrats to receive growing support in the polls now that the country's 2018 election approaches.  Student fellow Amy Russo reports from Sweden as it reverses course on immigration.


teal halftone illustration of a family carrying luggage and walking


Migration and Refugees

Migration and Refugees