The United Nations refugee agency today voiced concern over reports that Sweden planned to send about 25 Iraqis back to Baghdad tomorrow, saying that a number of those scheduled to be deported belong to religious and ethnic groups that have been targeted in recent attacks.
The spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming, told reporters in Geneva that those reportedly targeted for repatriation “have profiles that would warrant protection under the 1951 Refugee Convention or the European Union’s Qualifications Directive.”
“UNHCR was troubled that its advice, including on the situation of minorities in Iraq, was not sufficiently taken into account by Sweden when reviewing negative decisions that were made in 2008 and 2009,” Ms. Fleming said, adding that the agency believed that the Swedish authorities had not adequately taken into account the recent deterioration in the situation of minorities in Iraq.
UNHCR has frequently appealed for countries to ensure that asylum applicants originating from Iraq’s central governorates of Baghdad, Diyala, Ninewa and Salah al-Din, as well as Kirkuk province, benefit from international protection by being granted refugee status. Ms. Fleming said that the agency understood that many of those being returned on tomorrow came from those identified areas.
She said that 413 Iraqis were sent back to their country of origin from Europe last year and some 51 Iraqis have been deported so far this year.