‘Force’ municipalities to receive refugee children: minister

The Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) is having trouble convincing Sweden’s municipalities to receive sufficient numbers of unaccompanied refugee children. Tobias Billström, Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, now wants to force municipalities to step up, reported national radio station SR.

“Even though the number of cooperative municipalities is rising steadily, we still don’t have enough spaces,” Billström said to SR.

Today, 235 of Sweden’s 290 municipalities have a deal with the Migration Board, agreeing to receive a number of unaccompanied children.

Billström is now suggesting to make this deal mandatory for all municipalities, a change he wants to see come into effect before the next general election in 2014.

How the minister’s suggestion will be received in the Riksdag remains to be seen, but several municipalities are strongly critical.

“We can’t take all this responsibility on our own. The government can’t just make laws and then not send us enough money. We’ve got several other things, schools and elderly care, to take responsibility for,” Göran Dahlström told SR.

Dahlström is the social democratic head of Katrineholm, one of the municipalities which has no current deal with the Migration Board.

Another issue pointed out is what sort of reception the children are given.

“Pedagogically and psychologically, it’s not much fun to arrive to a municipality where you aren’t welcome,” said Per Åhdén in Skellefteå, one of the municipalities which accept most unaccompanied refugee children.

Last year 2,657 unaccompanied refugee children came to Sweden, an unusually high number.

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