Svenska kyrkan

The Church of Sweden to the Minister for Migration: A meeting about the situation for unaccompanied minors cannot wait!


"Today the Swedish Forum for Human Rights begins in Jönköping. Let it be a starting point for placing the human rights of all unaccompanied minors and young people, who are currently living a nightmarish existence in Sweden, front and centre.

Statement from the Church of Sweden:

Next year it will be 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the UN General Assembly. The Declaration was adopted at a time when millions of people were in flight, not very different from the situation that the world is in today. In many difficult conversations, Sweden has been a strong voice when it comes to standing up for the rights that all people have, wherever they may find themselves in the world. The Swedish Government has now said that the Convention on the Rights of the Child is a priority and is to become Swedish Law in 2020.

Despite its very small size, Sweden is seen by many as a humanitarian superpower, but this image has been called into question subsequent to the temporary law introduced in 2016 which made it more difficult to get protection in Sweden. At the same time, there is an ongoing dehumanisation of children and young people who have fled to find safety, security and a future in a country whose prime minister claimed in 2015 would not build any walls. This development is something we are worried about. Last week, the Church of Sweden and Rädda Barnenrequested a meeting with the Minister for Migration in order to identify joint solutions to the emergency situation of unaccompanied minors in Sweden. Neither the Minister for Migration nor the undersecretary of state saw any need to meet now, and deferred the matter to an already booked meeting on 22 November. From what we hear and see in the Church of Sweden’s parishes, this matter cannot wait that long.

People under threat of expulsion are turning to the parishes for assistance and support after the State has renounced responsibility for them. Many feel that they have been denied the right to a fair and impartial examination of their case under the rule of law. Young people are looking for couches to sleep on in order to continue their schooling after having been told to move to another location.

The people who are coming to us are mentally and physically distressed by the apprehension that they will be forced to return to a country where they risk injury in an armed conflict. We need to see and hear the voices of these people; the voices of people who have already fled to get protection and a secure future.

It is clear that the rights of these children under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have not been satisfied.

There is no time to lose. We must meet as soon as possible in order to identify potential ways forward!"

Wanja Lundby-Wedin, first vice-chair of the Board of the Church of Sweden
Mats Hagelin, 2nd vice-chair of the Board of the Church of Sweden


The Church of Sweden and Save The Children have advanced three demands in order for unaccompanied minors and young people to be allowed to remain in Sweden under dignified, legal forms. Last week, these organisations requested an urgent meeting with the Minister for Migration.

With these organisations’ combined experience of the desperation of these minors and young people, the established worsening security situation in Afghanistan, and the uncertainty in the asylum process that many bear witness to, the Church of Sweden and Save The Childrendemand that:

  • All expulsions to Afghanistan are stopped until the outcomes of already executed expulsion orders can be followed up.
  • The possibility of obtaining a residence permit on the basis of special and particularly distressing circumstances is reinstated.
  • All young people from Afghanistan not granted a residence permit on other grounds and deemed to be between 18 and 25 years of age are given the opportunity to obtain a residence permit on the grounds of upper secondary school studies by means of an expansion of Sweden’s Act on upper secondary school education.

The letter to the Minister for Migration in its entirety may be read HERE (in Swedish).



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