Municipalities forced to accept unaccompanied minors

1:27 min

As Sweden faces an unprecedented wave of child refugees crossing its borders by themselves, the Migration Agency will start applying a regulation that forces all local municipalities to house unaccompanied minors.

In the first half of 2015, some 4,500 children and teenagers arrived in Sweden seeking protection, almost doubling the figures for the same period of 2014.

This sharp increase has overwhelmed Sweden's municipalities, which argue they do not have enough housing for them. The migration agency has therefore decided to implement tougher measures to force them to accept more children.

"The difference is that now all municipalities will have to accept more children. Even those that have reached agreements and have used all their resources and also those that have received children who were placed with relatives," migration agency head Mikael Ribbenvik tells public broadcaster SVT.

The reluctance of many municipalities to accept unaccompanied minors was the reason the government passed a bill last year to force them to do it.

"When we came up with this, we never thought we would have to use it, so this is the first time. At the same time, we see a situation in the world, in Europe, in Sweden, with many children on the move. And many other countries are also receiving unaccompanied minors, it's not only Sweden," Ribbenvik says.

Earlier this month, the migration agency raised its forecast for unaccompanied children arriving in Sweden, from 8,000 to 12,000 for 2015.