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Sweden-RejectingIraqi 03-30

Mustafa Aziz Alwi, an Iraqi asylum-seeker, gestures as he speaks in Sollentuna, Sweden.

Sweden closes doors to Iraqis

The fear of being sent back to Baghdad has taken its toll on Mustafa Aziz Alwi.

He says he cannot sleep and has lost about 20 pounds since his claim for asylum in Sweden was rejected in January.

"They told me it’s because it’s calmer in Iraq now, that I can go back and be happy. But they don’t know that it’s death there," said Aziz Alwi, 25, wiping away tears in an interview at his cousin’s apartment in the Stockholm suburb of Sollentuna.

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Had his case been decided a year earlier, he would probably already hold a residence permit. Sweden has given shelter to about 100,000 Iraqis, 40,000 of them since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. That’s far more than any other Western country including the U.S..

But Sweden has gradually tightened its asylum rules, worried that its generous welfare system can’t cope.

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