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Asylum Seekers in Sweden

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  • Pages: 8
  • Word count: 1971
  • Category: Refugee

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In recent years, notably the last decade, refugees are being barraged to countries willing to accept them. A big one is Sweden; which I chose specifically for this paper. I have done so due to the notable news on the topic. They have a bad reputation because of their poor handling of the situation and their messy planning. Sweden needs to come to a consensus; do they continue to accept refugees at an alarming rate, or do they tighten their policy and cause some refugees strife? Here’s a collection of the information that I’ve gathered.

To understand why problems arise, we need to look at the number of refugees coming in, and from where. In 2017 there were 327,000 people of concern (Refugees, asylum-seekers) living in Sweden (UNHCR Statistics – Sweden Link n.pag) and “more than a quarter million requested asylum 2014-2015” (Elias par. 6). Sweden recorded the most refugees in 2015, (UNHCR Statistics – Sweden Link n.pag) and the people coming there derived from Syria, Eritrea, and Afghanistan (UNHCR Statistics – Sweden Link n.pag). What’s interesting about those numbers is that most, if not all of those people stay in Sweden unless forced to by the Swedish government. The fact of the matter is, because Sweden is taking in so many refugees despite their population they cannot sustain all of them (Amy M.Russo, par. 1). They can’t because of their Geological size and population. They have a low amount of housing as well. To counter this they have started to tighten the acceptance rate on refugees, but also even deport them. This causes even more dangers because “The Taliban would ask us why we left for Europe,” which assumably could cause death or sufferage because they’ve left and the Taliban will want to teach a lesson to those who flee. (Girouard Catherine par. 3). The greatest amount of refugees that Sweden has needed to house was about 357,628 documented in 2015 (UNHCR Statistics – Sweden Link n.pag). The major problem though is that people are still attempting to gain asylum due to a civil war in Syria and conflicts in the Middle East including Afghanistan (UNHCR Statistics – Sweden Link n.pag). This is a problem because Sweden already has enough refugees which need to be taken care of, and by bringing more in they’re complicating things. Sweden’s refugee numbers and asylum-seeker numbers are going down due to Sweden’s sporadic attempt to deport refugees and asylum seekers already in the country (Girouard par. 5) although it’s difficult to pinpoint how fast because of the collateral deportation plus the amount of people torrentially attempting to find asylum there.

Where are all these refugees from? What’s keeping them from the home and causing them to flee to Europe? Roughly 47 percent of refugees in Sweden are from Syria, a leading country in terms of people fleeing their homes. The reason for that was the many people living in Syria from 2011-2012 thought the war would be over in a little, so they could return which caused them to erratically find a permanent area to stay (Cockburn par. 4). Many of these wars aren’t being shown to slow down which causes Refugees to not only need safety, but also require economic means such as a job and sustainable living conditions. In a country where you aren’t a citizen and may not speak the appropriate native language (typically Swedish/Finnish), this is difficult and is a large impediment to the government because it distracts them for other issues and slows down the process of integrating them to society. Syria reported six million, three hundred thousand people fleeing Syria (UNHCR Statistics – Syria Link n.pag). Syria is a hotspot for fleeing citizens due to the ongoing Syrian War, which has been going on for about seven years now. To paraphrase, the soldiers who support Bashar Al-Assad are fighting against the rebels, who are tired of Assad’s dictatorship and called for a democracy (“Syria: The story of the Conflict” BBC par.1). Unintended consequences of the supporters of the rebels (U.S, Turkey, Saudi Arabia) have been sending in air strikes onto certain areas including chemical weapon sites and missile factories (“What’s Happening in Syria?” BBC par. 7) which has killed and injured thousands of innocent people, despite their aim for Assad-supporters. The conflict has displaced a known, and previously stated 6.1 million people (“What’s Happening in Syria?” BBC par. 5). Compared to the United States, Sweden contains about 327,000 people of concern despite their measly population of 9 million. America has 929,000 people of concern despite their population of about 325 million. These facts are staggering and prove that Sweden’s ratio of population-to-displaced people is almost like if Sweden was worrying about another country or carrying the world. The effect of this ratio is not only due to sheer amount of people living in the country, but the geographical size of Sweden and the limited amount of housing (Lifvendahl par. 2).

Lots of these people coming to Sweden are children in a family. In a late effort to cut back on a demanding amount of refugees entering Sweden, Sweden deported many families because of the public outcry and turmoil. An effect of this in children is known as “uppgivenhetssyndrom,” an illness that children have reported manifesting after getting shocking news of being booted out of the country (Aviv, par. 10). Essentially this causes kids to fall unconscious, lack of motor skills, and zero desire to want to do even the most basic of activities. But refugees are only a fraction of the people who are being affected in Sweden. Sweden’s rise in immigration, primarily from refugees has caused a major shift in cultural identity. “It’s a culture clash, there are people that don’t..want to contribute to the Swedish country and don’t want to be a part of our culture and respect the culture and respect the laws, and that is a big problem,” reports Chairman Julia Kronlid of the Swedish Democrats (Elias par. 9 and 10). Many refugees do not care about the state of culture in Sweden. Refugees are forced to live on the streets in tents which leads to a significant decrease in sanitation, which depending on how you view this is Sweden’s problem. Sweden’s humanitarian state is becoming unrecognizable, says Faroer, a resident of an area known as Rinkeby. “I don’t recognize my city anymore,” she says (Elias, par. 15). Crime has certainly severely risen in Sweden and many of the citizens argue that it’s not a coincidence that all the refugees are living there crime is rising. But what’s also strange is that in other towns people are actually reporting that crime isn’t because of the refugees. In an article from The Economist we hear that some town’s crime rate is due to European drug-traffickers (“Confusion over Immigration and Crime is Rolling European Politics” par.1).

Many of the refugees in Sweden are getting a terrible reputation from many news sources, but alternative news sites are trying to defend those in Sweden. A small town in Sweden known as Haparanda is under political fire, and it’s being blamed on the immigrants. What was found was that the crime isn’t a direct relationship to increased refugee numbers, although many Swedes are blaming refugees for recent shootings and gang rapes which are being challenged by Social Democrats (“Confusion over immigration and crime is roiling European politics,” par.1, 2 3). What’s very interesting, and a somewhat special case for Sweden is the amount of exhaustion from the government leaders, not just the people. The ruling Social Democrats have said that they’re going to be putting into place new asylum restrictions aimed at reducing the number of refugees in the country to half of those previous. Sweden’s doing this in an attempt to maintain consistent resources but also to stay humanitarian and help assimilate refugees already in the country (“Swedish Social Democrats Want to Halve Refugee Numbers” par. 1, 2, 3). Magdalena reports that “Integration is not working properly. It didn’t work before the autumn of 2015 either, but for me it’s obvious that we cannot have a larger asylum reception than we are able to integrate. That is not good for the people who come here and it is not good for society at large either. We must ensure that we never end up in such a situation as we were in the fall of 2015. The focus now needs to be on those who have the right to stay in Sweden.” (Lifvendahl, par. 2, 4, 5). Government officials are starting to agree that there needs to be a reasonable amount of people coming in, it can’t just be open borders. The refugees that are rightfully there deserve to live there now, and they’ve got to be assimilated first. Despite this, the Green Party generally warns that soon there would be no sanctuary left those who need to flee (“Swedish Social Democrats want to halve refugee numbers” par. 15, 16, 17, 18). Sweden is certainly torn on this.

A compelling thing that I noticed which was most likely the main cause and differentiator for Sweden was the tax rate. Personal income tax rates in Sweden are at 62 percent averaged (Trading Economics Statistics – Sweden’s Personal Income Rate Link, par. 1). Swedes are more than happy to pay this amount, especially because they all benefit a great amount because of their population. But the problem with a tremendous influx of refugees is that there aren’t having to pay these taxes due to the reported amount of people who aren’t assimilating and refusing to get a job—or they just plain can’t because of their language barrier. Reported by Valentina Valestany, “I am very happy to pay high taxes because I know I am getting value for the money later on, lunches are free, it was no problem getting in. My daughters receive a very good education and they have great teachers.” (Founche, par. 7). With all these refugees the government has to accommodate for them and that certainly is coming from the huge sum of money gathered from the people, which de-values the accomodies given to them for high taxes whilst still paying very much. A lot of these findings prove to show that Sweden has in past been on attack on all sides, and is only just recovering after about three years of a torrential rain of refugees and asylum seekers.

To wrap up all of this, Sweden has had a rough past 4 years. Because of the conflicts in Syria and other Middle-Eastern countries due to to bombings and uprisings against dictators people have been displaced out of their homes. Sweden has been known in the past for providing aid and shelter to those who need it. They accepted lots of refugees and eventually pushed their limits. Refugees piled into the country and Sweden was not prepared to face sanitary problems as well as an increased population. For this fact alone Sweden is a known offender to poor treatment of this situation expressed by deportation and a large demographic of refugees without shelter or even parents or families. Consequences of such things caused their population to take a stance as well as government officials which internally led to decrease in refugees and asylum seekers, but an increase of quality of life and health for those who are currently in Sweden. Despite their rough start Sweden has learned that the safe way is to teach the refugees currently there how to blend in and live better than if they accepted more at a constant rate. This decision is a win-win because not only are they saving refugees with reason and tactility, but also being fair to those who lived there previously and giving them breathing room to welcome the new refugees.

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