Housing for refugees outside of Helsingborg. File photo: Emil Langvad / TT
Housing for refugees outside of Helsingborg. File photo: Emil Langvad / TT

New refugee distribution law goes into effect Tuesday

"I think people have mixed feelings about the law"
7:46 min

Starting Tuesday, all Swedish municipalities will be required to take in refugees if asked to do so, but some predict major challenges in living up to requirements to arrange accommodation and school places for all new arrivals.

Even though municipalities will receive compensation for every refugee they take in, many are expected to face challenges, news agency TT reports.

"Some of the compensation has increased now and some municipalities say that the money is sufficient, some say it isn't. It's not clear-cut," Per-Arne Andersson, who works for Sweden's Association of Local Authorities and Regions, told TT. 

The new law means that no municipality will be able to refuse taking in refugees who have received a residence permit and who must move out of the Migration Agency's accommodation facilities.

In 2016, a total 21,700 refugees, and in some cases their relatives, will be distributed across Swedish municipalities, and that is three times as many as last year.

Municipalities with a healthy labor market and a large population who have so far taken in few refugees will be required to take in a larger proportion. Vaxholm, Staffanstorp, Vallentuna, Vellinge, Lomma and Kungsbacka are among the municipalities that in recent years have taken in the fewest refugees in proportion to their populations. Now, Kungsbacka, for example, will be assigned to take in 318 refugees, and Vellinge 159. 

Fredrik Geijer, head of integration in Kungsbacka on the Swedish West Coast, says that people there have mixed feelings about the new requirement.

"I think some people are a bit annoyed that we have to take in refugees now, we are not used to it, but many are also proud to get a chance to help out," Geijer says.

Geijer says that the chief challenge will be to find housing for the new arrivals.

"It's going to be difficult to find roofs over their heads. We already have a housing shortage and long queues to get apartments here. Another challenge is to find them work," Geijer says.

In its latest forecast, the Swedish Migration Agency wrote that the county administrative boards believe there is a risk that some municipalities will not be up to the task, or will have trouble managing it, on account of the housing shortage.

Aside from the 21,700 refugees who will be assigned to municipalities by the Swedish Employment Service, 34,000 people who have residence permits are expected to have found their own living arrangements. A little over 20 municipalities that have already taken in many refugees - or are expected to take in many who have arranged their own housing - will not be assigned any refugees during 2016. They include Södertälje and Östra Göinge.

Unaccompanied minors who come to Sweden seeking refugee will belong to a separate distribution system, which starts on April 1st. For the time being, 40,000 places are expected to be needed in 2016 for these youths, while about 22,000 of these places already exist.

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