– For a humane immigration policy
During 2015, more than 70 000 children sought protection in Sweden (according to the Swedish Migration Agency). They came here with or without a family, away from violence and war to a new life in Sweden. Here they encountered generosity and concrete care: from politicians and civil servants, teachers and administrative staff, social workers and custodians, companies, associations and churches. Thousands of the people have shared their time and commitment in football training, language classes and children´s groups. It is easy to understand why. People want to contribute and help. People want to be good fellow human beings.
In 2016, there has been a drastic change in Swedish asylum and refugee policy. In June, the parliament passed a new and restrictive asylum law. Not only the law, but also the authorities’ application has become more restricted. People fleeing run the risk of being described as a social and economic burden, and as a problem that should be resolved outside the borders of Sweden. Many of us are deeply concerned about this technical approach, lack of empathy and dehumanization inherent in the current asylum policy and the discussion surrounding it. The persons particularly affected are children and young people who are deprived of hope for the future.
We see desperate young people who run the risk of being expelled to insecure and conflict-ridden countries – young people who often see Sweden as their only possible home. We see children who do not know if their families will stay more than 13 months in the country where they have started school and made new friends. We see parents in Sweden who desperately try to find ways to re-unite with their children in the conflict areas or along the escape route but where there are legal or bureaucratic hindrances. The right to family life is a fundamental human right laid down in international treaties. Common to all refugees is that they live in agonizing suspension, uncertainty and anxiety.
Compassion and the willingness to involve oneself in others are basic human attributes. This links up with a fundamental concept of the Christian faith: human beings are created to live together. As fellow human beings, we are of concern to each other. The conditions of the children, young people and families affected by the new asylum legislation concern us all.
Let the fourth Sunday of Advent be the starting point for a call for a humane migration policy!
By signing the Christmas petition, we call upon the government to:
– Give children and young people the right to safety and belief in the future
– Provide all those who have been granted asylum in Sweden the right to family life
– Remove practical obstacles to family reunification
We encourage everyone to:
– Sign our petition on juluppropet.skr.org
Church Leaders on the Board of the Christian Council of Sweden:
Daniel Alm, Director, The Pentecostal Alliance of Independent Churches
Anders Arborelius, Bishop, Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockholm
Dioscoros Benyamin Atas, Archbishop, Syrian Orthodox Church
Stefan Holmström, Director, Swedish Evangelical Mission
Antje Jackelén, Archbishop, The Church of Sweden
Johnny Kleman, Commissioner, The Salvation Army
Kjell Larsson, Director, Swedish Alliance Mission
Anne-Christine Lindvall, Serbian-Orthodox Church
Jean Mansour, Archimandrite, Greek-Orthodox Church of Antioch
Maie Martinson, Local church leader, Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church
Bernth-Åke Ottosson, Acting Director, Interact
Lasse Svensson, President, Uniting Church
Karin Wiborn, General secretary, Christian Council of Sweden