Even distribution of refugees could ease crisis

1:50 min

While many Swedish municipalities are having a hard time coping with the influx of refugees, a majority of them could take on many more asylum-seekers, if the distribution system was fairer, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions says.

The association’s department head Per-Arne Andersson tells Swedish Radio News that only a handful of local councils are experiencing serious problems finding housing for refugees.

“There are 40-50 municipalities that are facing a crisis,” he says, “but the other 200-220 municipalities say they can do more.”

During the Fall Sweden has taken on more than 110,000 asylum-seekers, of which 25,000 have been unaccompanied children.

Per-Arne Andersson says it is the uneven distribution of refugees among the municipalities that is the Achilles heel of Swedish crisis management.

The government is to introduce legislation soon which would force all municipalities to receive people who have been granted residence permits. It would then be the task of the Swedish Public Employment Service to place those with permits in various municipalities.

The Association of Local Authorities and Regions thinks that might not be enough to alleviate the situation, as under the law people could still move anywhere in the country they wish if they can find housing. 

But that law would be difficult to amend, says Erik Nilsson, Permanent Secretary at the Labor Market Ministry and responsible for refugee issues at the prime minister’s office:

“We have so many refugees arriving that the question is almost academic,” he says. “We need for people to be able to find their own housing, using their relatives, and we also need more refugee housing facilities.”

Note: In a press release issued after this story was published the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions said it was not for it to say how many refugees Sweden can take: "That is a question for the state and government," it writes.