In a spectacular u-turn by the Social Democrats, whose election pledge was to limit immigration, Sweden’s new minority coalition government seeks to introduce a so-called humanitarian protection cause that will encompass “climate refugees”.

Starting this summer, individuals with so-called “alternative protection needs” will have the same right to family re-unification as refugees, the newspaper Expressen reported citing a cross-party agreement. According to the newspaper’s estimate, the new rules will affect 20,000 extra immigrants.

According to the Swedish Migration Board, this step will make Sweden of the EU’s “most generous countries” in terms of family re-unification, since even Germany has taken more restrictive steps.

However, the Swedish minority coalition government also seeks to introduce a “humanitarian protection clause”, which would entitle even more asylum seekers to stay in Sweden on various grounds. The issue is included in the 73-point agreement between the Social Democrats, the Greens, the Liberals, and the Centre. Among other things, this step will include so-called “climate refugees”.

“It can be those fleeing from a climate disaster. It can be those who are gravely ill and know they are about to die, perhaps of a brain tumour, in a few months. It can be an elderly person who has no attachment in their home country and is sickly”, Centre Party immigration spokeswoman Johanna Jönsson told Swedish Radio.

According to Swedish Immigration Minister Morgan Johansson, Sweden now has the opportunity to do so, “without ending up in crisis again”.

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