Robel Kidane had meant to travel from Osby to Vellinge in southern Sweden but stepped on the wrong train, and by the time he realized his mistake was already on the other side of the border, newspaper Sydsvenskan reports.
When border police at Copenhagen's Kastrup Airport on August 11th saw the boy's official asylum seeker photo ID, they understood that something was wrong and contacted the asylum home where he lived in Vellinge.
Staff at the home then got in touch with Kidane's legal guardian in Sweden, Thorild Hamfors.
He in turn phoned the Migration Agency to explain the mistake – a decision he now regrets.
Hamfors had hoped for help, but instead the boy was registered as having left Sweden, where he has lived since last August. The 17-year-old also lost the right to return to the asylum accommodation in Vellinge, and will most likely have to reapply for asylum if he manages to return.
“It's a catastrophe as far as his wellbeing is concerned,” Hamfors told Sydsvenskan. “The [Migration Agency's] case officer was just about to make a decision regarding permanent residency. Now it starts again, and will take at least another year.”
Sweden's tough new asylum rules mean Robel Kidane will no longer be able to apply for permanent residency and can hope for a temporary permit at best.
The Red Cross and the Migration Agency said they knew of several similar cases since the introduction of border checks.
Mikael Kinning, who works with the Red Cross in Vellinge, criticized the migration agency's bureaucratic response to the error.
“There's no empathy for the person here: a teenager who goes to school in Vellinge, who has a support family that cares about him, and a home where he is liked,” he told Sydsvenskan.