My Reactions to the Swedish Turn-Around in Refugee Crisis

In shock and disbelief, I read that the Swedish governing coalition has more or less closed Sweden’s boarders. From the initial “Refugees Welcome” attitude to closed doors. The reason is taking in 80 000 refugees over the last two months (!) has stretched Sweden’s infrastructure and services.

In addition, the EU neighbours (except for Germany) are not pulling their weight and Sweden’s PM said he hopes this will send a signal to them. In detail, the following was announced:

“Sweden’s new asylum regime will apply for three years. Temporary residence permits will be granted to all refugees apart from those relocated to Sweden under the EU’s quota scheme and families with children and unaccompanied children who have already arrived.

Sweden’s border police also announced a doubling of officers on Sweden’s southern coast, where most refugees arrive. Since the imposition of border controls on 12 November, the average number of asylum seekers has fallen from 1,507 per day to 1,222, according to immigration officials.” (the Guardian)

As a Swedish citizen, I feel disappointed with my politicians (I voted for the current PM) and was hoping for a less reactive and conservative leadership. Especially toward the background of Sweden being extremely stable financially – to the point on negative interest rates(!) and according to Swedish Central Bank Director Ingves, Sweden could even benefit economically from a large scale inflow of migrants/refugees as that would grow the economy, increase jobs and make the ageing population younger. Many solutions to infrastructure and service limitations have not been tested!

After several discussions on social media and at home, I have arrived at the same basic question over and over again:

Where do you draw the line when helping others?

Sadly, its a question with no easy answer. Because how do you make sure your help is sustainable, that you do not sacrifice yourself or your values in the process? But also, Sweden cannot take in all 11 million Syrians fleeing, so no restrictions at all can also not work? However, I feel, and this is based more on feeling than fact, I admit, that Sweden drew this line too soon. One of the richest countries in the world could lead by example – there are already so many great stories in Swedish media on families taking in refugees, schools working collaboratively with Swedish training for newcomers, and citizens contributing with what they can –  I feel there was more to build on there, instead of quickly closing the boarders as soon as the going got tough. As Swedes mobilize to demonstrate the new refugee policy, I know I am not the only one who feels this way.