FECL 19 (October 1993):

MASS-DEPORTATIONS OF KOSOVO-ALBANIAN ASYLUM SEEKERS

According to Kjell Kylander, chief of the Central Office for Transport (Transportcentralen) of the Swedish police in Göteborg, Sweden is currently deporting rejected Kosovo-Albanian asylum seekers at an average rate of 1600 persons per month.

The operation is carried out by air, using chartered planes shuttling between Sweden and Skopje (Macedonia) and by land, using buses which take the ferry between the southern Swedish port of Ystad and Swinoujscie (Poland).

Based on a special agreement reached between Sweden and Macedonia, the Macedonian police have been, until now, routinely "escorting" Kosovo-Albanian asylum-seekers deported from Sweden to the Serbian border (Due to the current UN-sanctions against Serbia, direct deportations back to Kosovo are currently impossible). The costs of the transport and the police escort are paid by Sweden (see FECL No.12, p.2). The Swedish practice is questionable considering the fact that Kosovo is legally in Serbia and Sweden is thus in effect deporting refugees back to a country against which sanctions are supposedly in force.

At the end of September, however, the Macedonian authorities denied entry to 15 Kosovo-Albanians from Sweden arriving in Skopje with a charter plane carrying a total of 70-80 deportees, on the grounds that their papers were not in order. The 15 Kosovo-Albanians were later sent back to Sweden.

Sweden's mass-deportations, now confirmed by Mr. Kylander, came to light, after rumors about the "refugees on orbit" began circulating in Switzerland. According to Swiss sources, some of the Swedish charter planes carrying Kosovo-Albanians make intermediate landings at Zurich airport.

The massive deportation of Kosovo-Albanians by Sweden was preceded by a barrage of press comment in August 1992, in which the entire Kosovo-Albanian community was described as being disproportionately involved in crime committed by asylum seekers.

The allegations were based on statistics whose accuracy was strongly questioned by experts. The campaign was further fuelled by a remark of the minister in charge of immigration, Ms. Birgit Friggebo on television-news, that "[apparently] there is a certain tradition or something else that makes them [the Kosovo-Albanians] more inclined to filching and stealing bicycles, laundry and whatever else than any other refugee group".

It is commonly known that asylum applications from Kosovo-Albanians are processed quickly - and are usually turned down - by the Swedish immigration authorities. But although Sweden's decision to grant residence permits to about 40'000 Bosnian refugees who entered the country before June 22 (see CL No.17, p.6), has received nation-wide press coverage, until now, nothing was known about the extent of what appears to be a thorougly planned deportation-operation against refugees from Kosovo.

N.B.

 

Investigation: Mats Dahlström, journalist, Box 2059, S-792 02 Mora, Tel: +46/250/385 44, Fax: +46/250 385 45