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Refugees staying put in problem spots

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17:57 CET+01:00
A Swedish government project focused on enticing refugees to leave problem-ridden areas in Sweden's big cities has failed to achieve its goals. After two years, just 286 people have made use of the scheme, according to figures released by the Swedish Migration Board.

"While it seems to me that there are a lot more people who could probably benefit from moving, I realize it's very difficult when you've put down roots," Integration Minister Nyamko Sabuni told news agency TT.

The Migration Board received 6 million kronor ($830,000) over the course of 2008 and 2009 to stimulate outward movement from areas with heavy refugee populations, housing shortages, and high unemployment.

With new arrivals gravitating towards areas populated by family and friends, politicians in Malmö and Södertälje in particular have previously voiced concerns that their infrastructures cannot withstand a further influx of refugees.

But despite the relocation project's relatively low take-up level, Tomas Norberg from the Stockholm County Administrative Board's integration division urged observers to consider the lives behind the numbers.

"If you look at the Migration Board's figures, this appears to be a non-functioning operation. But in reality it is a very important operation that helps an awful lot of people improve their situation," he said.

Furthermore, a survey carried out jointly by the respective county boards and the migration board indicates that many more refugees have moved than suggested by the relocation project's figures.

The government has previously indicated that the system for the reception and integration of refugees will undergo a major overhaul in December. Most significantly, the employment agency is to have its powers extended in a bid to encourage refugees to move to areas where jobs and accommodation are in plentiful supply as soon as they arrive in the country.

Nyamko Sabuni could not say whether the current project would continue to run concurrently with the proposed changes.

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