Trying to stem refugee influx, Sweden asks: When is a child not a child?

Wed Feb 3, 2016 2:47pm EST
 
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By Alistair Scrutton and Sven Nordenstam

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Under huge strain from an influx of unaccompanied children seeking asylum, the Swedish government faces political pressure to undertake medical tests like X-rays to vet the age of young refugees despite opposition from doctors and lawyers.

The controversy reflects tensions over surging immigration into the Nordic country of 10 million after a public backlash that saw controls reimposed on the border with Denmark, from which most migrants have entered Sweden.

Sweden took in 163,000 asylum seekers last year, the most per capita in Europe. They were among more than one million who streamed into the continent, fleeing increasing conflict and deprivation in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

More than a fifth, 35,000, of those reaching Sweden have been unaccompanied children, stretching services like schools.

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Passengers, among them migrants and refugees, exit the German ferry terminal in Goteborg, Sweden, in this September 11, 2015 file photo.   REUTERS/Adam Ihse/TT News Agency/Files