Gov't following asylum crisis 'hour by hour'

In a special parliamentary debate on asylum seekers called by the Left Party, the government on Friday proposed a number of measures to deal with the refugee situation in Sweden, with the housing of ayslum seekers to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

The Minister for Justice and Migration, Morgan Johansson, said that he wanted to switch the law on forcing all local and municipal councils in Sweden to take in asylum seekers, which had been set to come in next summer, to instead happen as soon as possible. He asked for the municipal councils to start at once preparing accomodation places this autumn.

Ten thousand asylum seekers are currently stuck in asylum reception centres, still waiting for a placement.

The minister announced that the government would be taking stock of its properties that could be made available for use by council authorities.

He told parliament that around 1000 asylum seekers a day are arriving in Sweden and the Government is monitoring developments 'hour by hour'.

Sweden between the years 2011-2015 received more than 100,000 Syrian refugees. Had all EU countries received the same amount, then 5 million Syrian refugees would have been able to obtain protection in the EU, according to Morgan Johansson.

The Social Democrat minister called for cooperation across the political divide and predicts a difficult autumn ahead.

"I hope that when we look back on it in a few years one can say that this was an autumn when Sweden and the Swedish people showed itself from its best side," Johansson said.

Earlier in the debate in parliament, the anti-immigration party, the Sweden Democrats, said it wants to cut the numbers of asylum seekers coming to Sweden by 95 percent.

This would be achieved, it said, through the reintroduction of border controls at the ferry terminals and the Øresund Bridge and sending back refugees to the closest safe country they came in from, usually Denmark.

"Those who should be helped are those who choose the legal avenues available. To help those who have chosen smugglers is not sustainable because it is based on the situation we have where people increasingly choose illegal and dangerous routes to Sweden," said Paula Bieler, integration policy spokesperson for the Sweden Democrats.

Instead, the Sweden Democrats would like to increase assistance to neighbouring areas of conflict zones and increase the number of quota refugees that Sweden receives from UNHCR refugee camps outside the EU to 4000 per year.

The Left Party said it wants to open more legal channels for asylum seekers wishing to come to Sweden and suggested increased opportunities for family reunification.