Photo: Pontus Lundahl / TT
File photo: Pontus Lundahl / TT

Winter coats trapped behind red tape

"The weather is cold"
1:41 min

As winter weather settles in, newcomers to Sweden are in need of suitable clothing and jackets, but bureaucracy stands between them and warmth, because by law, asylum seekers who need extra money to buy winter clothes have to get approval, and that takes time.

"Sweden is cold, we need jackets," Shaek Sarawi, from Afghanistan, told Swedish Radio News. He was wearing a lined hoodie in Malmö, which was blanketed with snow.

Asylum seekers get an allowance of a little over SEK 70 per day, or if they're getting both room and board, they get SEK 24 per day. That's supposed to cover things like clothes, health care and hygiene articles. To get a few hundred kronor extra in order to buy, for example, a winter coat, asylum seekers have to apply to the Migration Agency for a special grant. The Migration Agency currently has 29,000 applications they're working through, and that can take at least a couple of weeks, if not more.

However, Cecilia Borin, the head of quality at the Migration Agency, told Swedish Radio News that they are looking into better solutions, for example, buying jackets in bulk and keeping them in storage, in order to hand out after approving the request. But in order to bypass the need to assess each person's needs individually, the agency would need a political decision.

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