Asylum seekers in Malmö, the main entry point into Sweden. Photo: Anna Bubenko/Sveriges Radio.
Asylum seekers in Malmö, the main entry point into Sweden. Photo: Anna Bubenko/Sveriges Radio.

Sweden's immigration service forced to turn single men away

3:53 min

Sweden's immigration service said on Thursday that it can no longer provide accommodation for all newly registered asylum seekers and priority will be given to families with children and the elderly.  

Mikael Ribbenvik, director of operations at the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket), told Radio Sweden that they had to turn away forty single men on Thursday because they could not provide a roof over their heads.

"Unfortunately we had to turn 40 people down this afternoon. We are prioritising families with children, women, the elderly, people with special needs and so on. But single men we regretfully had to turn down. Of those 40, ten returned to Denmark, ten went back to Germany, where they had just come from and 20 wanted to continue their asylum application in Sweden. They had friends or relatives here so they gave us addresses and went there." 

Will people be sleeping on the streets?

"We have not seen that yet so I can only speculate. I don't know how they will act. We have seen people sleeping in central stations across Europé, so that is how they will probably act," says Mikael Ribbenvik, who added that around 600 new arrivals had come to Malmö via the train on Thursday. 

The acute shortage of housing for the record numbers of arrivals led to Thursday's announcement by the Swedish Migration Agency (migrationsverket) that it can no longer offer a bed to all migrants and refugees seeking asylum. It said that from today, asylum seekers must help to arrange their own accommodation when a bed cannot be found.

The agency is looking into procuring new beds, casting its net far and wide, looking into all kinds of places. It is getting new places every day but it is not enough to meet demand.It is investigating floating accommodation on boats and barges.

The immigration service said that it had managed to provide beds for the thousands of weekly arrivals but the point had now been reached in which new asylum seekers were being registered without the simultaneous offer of accommodation.

"What we have flagged for a long time has now occurred. We have entered a new phase where Migrationsverket cannot offer a roof over the heads of everyone. There are not enough places," said Mikael Ribbenvik, Director of Operations at the Migration Agency.

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