Frosty reception for vulnerable refugees

The unwillingness of Swedish municipalties to take in refugees who are traumatised or disabled has been described by the head of the Migration Board as "a major problem".

Frosty reception for vulnerable refugees

Migration Board Director General Dan Eliasson and Stockholm County Governor Per Unckel have called for local councils to extend a more generous welcome to “new Swedes” in a in article published on Thursday in the Dagens Samhälle weekly.

“The asylum system is not just for people who are ready to start working. It is predicated on providing protection for those who need it, including people who have been tortured or are traumatised, disabled, illiterate or have a low level of education. These are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable,” write Eliasson and Unckel.

Sweden’s municipalities taken in around 20,000 people a year who have received residence permits through the asylum system. Many successful asylum seekers decide to remain in the areas where they have managed to organise accommodation during the application process.

But In 2008 Sweden’s various county administrative boards negotiated 2,900 municipal homes for people who had been staying at the Migration Board’s own temporary apartments.

Although the government has set a maximum limit of one month, around 400 successful asylum applicants had to wait more than four months for the municipalities to arrange accomodation for them. There are even examples of people who have had to wait more than nine months, write Eliasson and Unckel.

Policies rewarding municipalities where new arrivals quickly enter the workplace have led to a bonus system by which the local councils received money from the state for each person who has either received a job or begun work experience. But there is no such reward system for councils taking in vulnerable applicants who are likely to demand a lot of societal resources.

“There is nothing wrong with the work policy; it should be encouraged. But it needs to be pointed out that Swedish migration policy consists of different parts,” write Eliasson and Unckel, who urge the government and the municipalities to work together to find a solution.