This is an anonymous message from someone who works within the system in Sweden. He is bound by a duty of confidentiality so cannot reveal his name without repercussions.
I have extensive experience of unaccompanied asylum seekers and have lived with them around the clock for several years. All, with few exceptions, are much older than the age they stated and which was accepted by the Immigration Service.
Often, they are “14 years-old” when they come, but the real age is in most cases around 19 to 25 years. They often look younger than they are, but there are a number of signs that reveal the lie for those of us who live close to them:-
Shoe size and body length does not change over timeÂ – clothing size as well, if they do not gain weight of courseÂ – beard is fully developed and needs shaving from day 1Â – dental status, for example, when wisdom teeth are already in placeÂ – the behaviour, which after a while (especially after the permanent residence permit) exhibits all the signs of the unaccompanied refugee being a man instead of a boy.
Examples from Norway showed that over 60 percent lied about their age. In my and my colleagues’ experience in Sweden the figure is much higher than that. I, like my colleagues, marvel at how easy it is for them to lie about their age and have it approved by the Migration Board!
We’ve all seen the 20-year-old young Muslim men, with all that implies, who claim to be “14 years”-old, placed in grade 7 at school with 13-year-old girls. When we raise the question in our organization or with their guardians / specially appointed custodians, we are greeted by total silence. No one wants or dares to or can talk about this fact and this is certainly not a good system. We ourselves are bound by confidentiality.
The huge age gap creates problems and conflicts at school, in housing and in many other ways. We will work with younger teens, our business and skills are suited to this. But instead, for the most part, we are meeting grown men! There is a big problem. But how do we solve it, as we cannot discuss it with each other?