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'The long wait is making people crazy'

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'The long wait is making people crazy'
Asylum seeker Yusuf Babatunde. Photo: Private
07:19 CEST+02:00
Asylum seeker Yusuf Babatunde, 36, says refugees need more psychological support and argues that many new arrivals would welcome the chance to focus their minds on voluntary work, while they wait for their paperwork to be processed.
While many European countries are telling immigrants to stop coming, Sweden is trying its best to accommodate refugees and I hope that God blesses every single Swedish person who is supporting this cause.
 
But looking around the people at the asylum accommodation where I live in Västra Gotland in west Sweden, it is obvious to me that many of them are very troubled and they are in need of psychological help - not just money, food or a place to sleep.
 
These are not ordinary people, they have risked their lives and lost loved ones. They have crossed deserts and seas. But while they are waiting to have their claims processed, I do not see them getting any kind of regular psychological help.
 
I am worried that this could come back to haunt Sweden.
 
When you hear about asylum seekers accused of causing violence, it makes me wonder about whether they had mental health problems.
 
But until asylum seekers are given the chance to become residents and live and work in Sweden they will always be stuck in the past. The long wait is making people crazy.
 
The government needs to focus more on steering people back in the right direction, to make sure they will be more stable and therefore useful to the economy in future. Sweden needs to invest more in helping with integration.
 
 

The head office of Migrationsverket, Sweden's Migration Board, in Stockholm. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT
 
I am Nigerian and Sweden does not automatically offer help to Nigerians, but I am hoping to have my case considered.
 
I was threatened by the violent extremist group Boko Haram when I was working for a mining company. They wanted me to get hold of explosives for them that I had access to through my work. I didn't do it, but I ended up also being approached by the Nigerian Security Services who thought I may have broken the law. So there are two enemies I am fleeing from. I left Nigeria with my wife, who was pregnant, because we wanted to find somewhere safer for our family where we were not living in constant fear of being killed. She is due to give birth next month.
 
 
I am the kind of person who copes well with things, so I don't think I personally need the psychological care I am suggesting for others.
 
But at the same time, if I don't start using my brain soon, I am going to be a dead man. I am fed up of just eating, sitting, sleeping.
 
I want to go around the accommodation centre - which we call 'the camp' - and offer help and support to people, I would be happy to do that.
 
I would also be glad to go into town, to gather people together to help clean up the community or engage in some other kind of voluntary work. I want to meet people, to interact with Swedes, to let people know I am here and to do something good. I already speak English, so most Swedes can understand me.
 
I think many others would welcome that opportunity too and I would like to spread the word about my idea for this proposed project. Help us to use our minds again and to become part of Swedish life.
 
If not the government, then maybe more charities or NGOs could help us with this. So many of us want to be useful -- to help both ourselves and society.
 
Yusuf Babatunde shared his story with The Local's Maddy Savage
 
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