Testing the limits of Swedish generosity
For decades, Sweden has offered a safe haven to people who have fled from military conflict but as the current refugee crisis hits an unprecedented scale, the question arises, how much longer can the country continue to offer hospitality?
Sweden is currently experiencing an ever deepening housing crisis. It is believed that to accommodate everyone in need of a place to live by 2020, the country would need to build the equivalent of “another Stockholm”. For now, refugees from Syria, other Middle Eastern countries and Africa are being housed temporarily in tents, on boats and even in a Wild West amusement park.
RT Doc’s correspondent, Marina Kosareva visits the High Chaparral theme park. Every summer it welcomes thousands of tourists but during the winter off-season, it is being used to provide temporary accommodation for some of the many refugees in need. Here, the government strives to create the best possible condition, including food and Wi-Fi, as well as organising a school for the children. But they’ll all have to go before the tourists return.
Meanwhile, the waiting time to process applications for refugee status keeps getting longer because of ever increasing numbers and can now take over a year. Applications though can be, and often are, refused, there have been many cases of immigrants being deported.
The situation is aggravated by crimes being committed by a minority of war refugees who now live in Sweden. Such crimes are often underreported and that has undermined Swedish trust in government policy and lead to a growing sense of unease about immigrants in general.
Some feel that Sweden changes its own character just to appease people of a different culture causing concerns that the country will lose its identity in pursuit of multiculturalism. In the most extreme cases, Swedish nationalists have been known to attack refugee camps.
While the current High Chaparral residents simply try to forget the horrors of war while adjusting to a new lifestyle in snowy Sweden, the sheer scale of the problem puts the host country under pressure while testing its famous hospitality to the limit.