The Latest: Swedish lawmakers tighten asylum rules

AP News
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Posted: Jun 21, 2016 11:26 AM
The Latest: Swedish lawmakers tighten asylum rules

BERLIN (AP) — The Latest on the arrival of refugees into Europe (all times local):

5:25 p.m.

Swedish lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved legislation to tighten regulations for asylum and family reunification in the Scandinavian country which had a record 160,000 asylum-seekers last year.

Parliament agreed Tuesday in a 240-45 vote, with 64 absent or abstaining, to adopt temporary residence permits for some asylum-seekers, who earlier automatically were granted permanent residency. The new legislation also has stricter restrictions on family reunification and tighter maintenance requirements.

The temporary measures will come into force on July 20 for an expected three-year period. They will apply retroactively to migrants who have applied for asylum after Nov. 24, 2015.

Hundreds of people gathered outside Parliament to protest the move, declaring it to be inhumane. The Social Democrat-led Nordic country has been famous for its welcoming attitude to immigrants and asylum-seekers.

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4:55 p.m.

Police in western Greece say seven teenagers from Afghanistan have been found in a refrigerated truck carrying watermelons to Italy.

The migrants aged between 15 and 17 were discovered Tuesday near the western Greek town of Messolonghi after the Serbian truck driver heard them banging on the walls of the refrigerated trailer and called the police.

Police said the Afghans had been placed inside the vehicle by traffickers while the driver was taking a break at a nearby truck stop.

More than 50,000 refugees and other migrants have been stranded in Greece following European border closures in March.

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9:40 a.m.

UNICEF is criticizing the living conditions of refugee children in Germany, saying they frequently lack proper medical care and access to schools for months.

The children's agency says in its report children also need to be better protected from abuse in large shelters and the length of their stays there need to be reduced. Refugee children often live in mass shelters for more than six months without schooling.

UNICEF head in Germany Christian Schneider said Tuesday that, "all children have equal rights — no matter where they are from, which community they belong to and which legal status they have."

The agency pointed out refugee children are often traumatized by war and violence and need special protection and care — not less than their German peers.