Swedish ambassador refutes claims of deportation deal

Karbala, May 18 (AKnews) - The Swedish ambassador to Iraq denied claims of a behind-the-curtains deal between the two countries to deport Iraqis in return for loans being dropped.

Refugee groups have alleged that deals were signed between Iraq and certain EU countries by which Iraq would receive deported Iraqi refugees and in exchange, debts owed to these countries would be cancelled.

"What is circulated on the media about a deal... to deport Iraqis is not true," Ambassador Karl Magnus said, adding that, "we reject asylum only to Kurds because the Kurdistan Region is enjoying security and economic stability therefore Kurdish Iraqi citizens do not need asylum in our country."

Mr. Magnus was speaking at a contract signing ceremony in Karbala between the Swedish truck maker, Scania, and the Iraqifirm, al-Raw'aa, to open a maintenance branch in the province.

Britain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland started in 2005 the forced deportation of Iraqis and Kurdish refugees back to Kurdistan via Baghdad.

Mr Magnus said there were some 62,000 Iraqis in Sweden, making up 2% of the total population.

Over the past five years, EU countries have turned down the applications of almost 5,500 Iraqi Kurds for asylum. Since the beginning of 2011 some 200 to 250 Kurdish asylum seekers, most of whom are from the Kurdistan Region - have been deported. 

The International Federation of Iraqi Refuges has criticized the position of the European countries, accusing them of double standards, saying it is too dangerous for their own citizens to visit many parts of Iraq whilst insisting that it is safe enough for refugees to return.

The secretary of the group Amanj Abdullah told AKnews that some 60,000 Kurds were awaiting deportation.

"If this deportation continues, some 50,000 to 60,000 refugees will be sent back to Iraq," he said, "...that represents an army of unemployed people that will create problems for both the regional and federal governments."

Abdullah said the rights of the deportees are often violated. Aside from being sent back forcibly, they are usually handcuffed and accompanied by guards who have been reported to have subjected them to "beatings" and "insults".

Mr Magnus insisted today however that "The Swedish government sends back Iraqis in a respectable manner via special airplanes and not forcefully as some imagine," he said

A UK Border Agency spokesman said to the BBC in August 2010: "Currently we have an agreement with the government of Iraq to return all Iraqi citizens to Baghdad". 

The spokesman did not however disclose any details of the "deal" in question.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly defended his country's decision to send asylum seekers back to Iraq.

"It is important to remember that one of the reasons that our brave servicemen and women fought and died in Iraq was to try and make that a more stable country and a country that people who had fled it would be able to return to," Cameron said in June last year amid mounting pressure from the United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) not to repatriate Iraqi asylum seekers.

"Iraq continues to suffer from the effects of this war and people should not be sent back there," said Dashty Jamal from the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR).

© AK News 2011

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