I remember when I first moved to Sweden and decided to take a walk down my local streets that there were hardly any homeless people. There were some people who were drunk on the streets, yet as the day turned into night, those people would soon disappear back to their apartments. After living in London for fifteen years’ homelessness was something that you see on a daily basis. Walking home from the pub is not uncommon to see people sleeping rough in shop doorways or under bridges. The UK has acknowledged that there is a big homeless problem, yet for me it is a problem there will always be with us unless the government can do more to help charities such as shelter.
The following year I noticed that there were more and more people begging on the streets of Stockholm. Most of those that I spoke to were from Romania you would come to Sweden to seek a better life. I would rarely give them money, more food and coffee. One thing that did make me want to write about this more was seeing for five people last December. Lying in thin sleeping bags in central Stockholm when the temperature must’ve been -15 and the snow was ankle-deep.
The last few weeks the news has been dominated by tens of thousands of people from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan risking their lives to travel to Europe to seek refuge in an EU state. It has caused something of a storm here in Europe with some countries arguing that others are breaking human rights. Germany said that they were taking as many people as possible, Hungary erected barbed wire fence to keep more people away. It is an issue that needs to be resolved. I have been listening to both sides of the argument, and I hope that there will be the resolution.
On one side of the argument, people need to understand that these people of human beings are fleeing war-torn countries. They are putting lives at stake spending weeks often travelling on foot with little food or water to get to a country where they may be able to have a sustainable life. If they are fortunate enough to arrive in the country where people can Seek Asylum, then of course they must abide by their adopted countries rules and regulations.
On the other side, I can also understand the people cannot simply walk across Europe and settle where they wish. Most EU countries are under an agreement that the first country where you land is the country that you should seek refuge. But this cannot work if they all arrive in Greece. There are approximately 120,000 people seeking refuge in the EU. Reportedly most want to settle in Sweden and Germany.
Here in Sweden there is an open policy where refugees are welcome. After living here for a few years now, I question if this is a wise move. Stockholm, in particular, has a severe housing issue. The waiting list for first-hand apartments in some areas is up to nineteen years, Sweden is not a large country in terms of population. With just over ten million people, it takes the second highest number of refugees in Europe per year. These people need to have accommodation; children need to be educated, and the places where they settle needs to be able to accept the intake and increase in population without causing any issues financially.
There are some cities that reportedly just keep many of those people seeking asylum in the same areas. Of course, there was a picture painted of crime-ridden areas high in unemployment. The only way that I see this succeeding is by integrating many people in different areas so that communities can benefit. Of course, there are those idiotic people who feel that all that seeking asylum are “Terrorists”. The many homeless people that I spoke to last summer and winter were a range of people from engineers, doctors, technicians and many other skilled forms of work. Some parts of Sweden lack in these professions and by giving these people a chance to benefit from a Swedish lifestyle they can give something back in a professional capacity.
The harshness is winter was rapidly approaching. The nights are getting darker earlier, and soon the snow and cold winds will arrive.
Those that are seeking to forge a better life here are fleeing war-torn countries. The only way I can see this working is by tackling the terrorism head-on in a full unified joint approach from the worlds forces. Europe cannot simply accommodate millions of people without it having an impact. For those already here they need to be looked after and catered for, but the only way to stop this just by ridding the world the fanatical terrorism.
Sweden has always had and honest approach and it an open policy for those seeking a new life. It is simply cannot just keep taking people in without it impacting in some way. The government has taken responsibility to review the situation at the end of this year. Time will only tell if this approach for work or if the doors may suddenly close on those wanting to arrive.