The Church in Malmö offering refugee accommodation

1:04 min

The Swedish church in Malmö has stepped in to provide a roof over the heads of 100 migrants and refugees who had been sleeping at night outside the Swedish Migration Agency office in the city.

In September, the Swedish Church first opened its doors to refugees for the occasional night or two. On Saturday, it received an official, direct request from the Swedish Migration Agency to provide shelter for the mainly, single men who cannot be housed by the under pressure immigration authority.

"Most lived two nights out on the street, out in the cold. Now they have been in the warmth of the church. These are people who really needed a place to be," says priest Per Kristiansson, who is the coordinator for refugee work for the Swedish Church.

He tells Radio Sweden that Johannes church in Malmö has room for six hundred people, but he told the Migration Agency that they would receive 100 people per night, which is all they can handle with the staff on duty, although they would not turn anyone away.   

"The first night (Saturday) we had 80 people, 20 EU migrants from Romania and Bulgaria and the rest sent from the Migration Agency. The next night it was around 100 people sleeping here."

In the morning, the refugees and asylum seekers are bussed back to the Migration Agency and return again at night.

"We believe in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ was a refugee himself, so in that way it feels it feels great, that we can open our doors for refugees in this way," he tells Radio Sweden. "Last Sunday, the gospel reading was about when Jesus said 'I was homeless and you gave me shelter', and when the church service bells rang out, people starting arriving for shelter and that felt really good."

The arrangement will go on for some time yet while the Migration Agency searches for alternative accommodation to meet demand. Last Thursday it said that it could no longer offer all registered asylum seekers a place to stay and would be prioritising families with children and the elderly.