Report: Eight out of ten Swedish churches helped refugees
Eight out of ten Church of Sweden congregations helped asylum seekers during the refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016, according to a new report.
Archbishop Antje Jackelén, who leads the Church of Sweden, said that the church's high level of engagement could be explained by the central tenets of Christianity.
"This kind of work is actually natural for any Christian congregation: to extend a hand to a fellow human who needs help; to show hospitality to a stranger," Jackelén said in a statement.
The report, which was carried out by the church itself, estimates that churches organised more than 8,000 volunteers to help the roughly 190,000 asylum seekers who came to Sweden in 2015 and 2016.
During an average month, around 37,000 people in Sweden have taken part in Church-run activities, the most popular of which are language-learning cafés, clothing collections and hand-outs, and meetings where new arrivals can get advice on contacting state agencies.
The Church concluded that the work had "re-vitalised" its congregations. It warned, however, that the more restrictive asylum and migration laws Sweden enacted at the end of 2015 make it harder for volunteers to support asylum seekers and to cooperate with state agencies.