Sweden: Local politicians attempt to stop refugee settlements in Sölvesborg

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The local government in Sölvesborg, Sweden, wants to stop refugees from moving to their municipality again, and have thus decided to defy the Settlement Act, the SVT reported. The municipality wants to be prepared for a possible new wave of refugees.

Already a year ago, the governing politicians in Sölvesborg raised the question of whether a municipality should be able to say no to receiving designated refugees. Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit and the question lost its priority, however, the issue is now relevant again and is expected to be raised during the city council meeting in November.

For Sölvesborg’s part, it has received 16 refugees that were assigned to the municipality this year. Paul Andersson, municipal councilor, still has not solved their placement problems, but the current joint board’s proposal is about future placements and whether they can be rejected.

“We want the issue resolved before a new refugee crisis,“ said Andersson.

When asked about what other laws the municipality can defy, he answered that he could not think of any, adding he had no plans to break any law but rather challenge it.

The Swedish government has two conflicting laws

Sölvesborg believes that the municipal self-government laws conflict with the national settlement law. Although municipalities should in theory have the right to decide how many migrants they accept, up until now they have been unable to resist due to the Settlement Act, which states that municipalities are obliged to accept new arrivals based on instructions from the Swedish Migration Board.

“We want to get it properly investigated so that we know what applies,“ added Andersson.

The current distribution between municipalities takes into account the municipality’s labor market conditions, population size, total reception of newly arrived and unaccompanied children, and the extent of asylum seekers staying in the municipality.

Moreover, asylum seekers can now choose to arrange accommodation on their own according to the so-called EBO Act. Since last summer, around 30 municipalities, including Malmö and Eskilstuna, have had to make exceptions from the EBO Act by pointing out areas that are considered particularly vulnerable. 

The asylum seekers who choose to move to these areas will lose their daily benefit allowance. The purpose is to steer asylum seekers towards different areas in order to improve integration efforts. 

The municipality attempt comes after recent news about radical change in the Swedish asylum policy. At the beginning of October, although the country agreed to provide material aid to Greece, it has decided not to accept any refugees from the burned Moria camp or other Greek islands.

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