Sweden Rejects Asylum of 106-Year-Old Afghan Woman

Family says she suffered a stroke when she learned of decision
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 4, 2017 4:16 PM CDT
Sweden Rejects Asylum of 106-Year-Old Afghan Woman
106-year old Afghan refugee Bibihal Uzbeki lies in bed in Hova, Sweden, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, and despite being severely disabled and barely able to speak, she is facing deportation from Sweden after her asylum application was rejected.   (David Keyton)

A 106-year-old Afghan woman who made a perilous journey to Europe, carried by her son and grandson through mountains, deserts, and forests, is facing deportation from Sweden after her asylum application was rejected. Bibihal Uzbeki is severely disabled and can barely speak. Her family has appealed the rejection, the AP reports. Their journey made headlines in 2015, when they were part of a huge influx of people who came to Europe from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries. They traveled by foot and on trains through the Balkans before finally reaching Sweden. Two years later, she and her 11 family members are living in the small village of Hova, in central Sweden. While the family avoided telling her, the constant grief from her granddaughters made her suspicious.

"My sisters were crying," explains 22-year-old Mohammed Uzbeki. "My grandmother asked, 'Why are you crying?'" The family says that soon after she understood her request was denied, her health started deteriorating and she suffered a debilitating stroke. The Swedish Migration Agency confirmed in a statement to the AP they had "taken a decision regarding an expulsion in the case," adding "generally speaking, high age does not in itself provide grounds for asylum." People whose applications are rejected are allowed up to three appeals, a process that can take a long time. The applications of other family members are in various stages of appeal. "The reasoning from the migration agency is that it's not unsafe enough in Afghanistan," says Sanna Vestin, the head of the Swedish Network of Refugee Support Groups, adding that many of the big cities cited as safe are not at the moment. (More refugees stories.)

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