Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Welcome to Sweden

I remember last summer, laying on a beach at the Bulgarian Black Sea cost and spelling my way through an entire Kapital saturday issue. The topic of the issue was the waste-war between Sofia's mayor Bojko Borisov and the premier minister Sergei Stanishev hat raged on and on until Borisov replaced Stanishev as he leader of the Balkan country.

The problem in Bulgaria at the time,  was that the city Sofia produced much more waste than it could digest. Stanishev said that this was Borisov's fault, Borisov blamed Stanishev etc. Sofia wanted to dump the waste somewhere else, but no one wanted to accept the waste. Of course. Eventually a solution was found, where the waste is taken to the village Shishmanci where it will be processed in the European way.

I dont't think this story showed the gentlemen from their best sides, but unfortunately they arenot alone. Here in Sweden the same drama is now unfolding, only that the argue is about people treated like waste, and not waste given political significance.

Malmö is the biggest city in southern Sweden, and the obvious point of entry for refugees coming to Sweden from the continent. Lately there has been a great influx of children without families, for reasons that I don't know. The radio this morning said the number of single refugee children are currently around 90.

These kids come to Malmö, are put in a hotel, where they are supposed to stay for some days until a more suitable long-time housing solution is found. Unfortunately, finding a such solution have been a nightmare for the Malmö municipality. Eventually they hired places by a private company in the care business (otherwise working with mentally disabled, for example), in a smaller town nearby called Vellinge.

The Vellinge local politicians object and say that they don't want any refugees kids there. This is Malmö's problem, that Malmö should solve. One could mock the right wing mayor*, usually a staunch market fundamentalist, for messing up with what a private company in his municipality does. But unfortunately his socialist competitors agree with him on this issue. Citizens have also protested to show that they don't want anything else than blonde kids with rich parents playing on their streets.

This is one of the scary aspects of immigrant policy in Sweden - there is a conservative consensus spanning over all the biggest parties that ensure that exactly this policy is not affected by elections.

What is not scary, but shameful, is the narrow mindedness of the Vellinge politicians. Vellinge happens to be one of Sweden's richest municipalities, i.e. one of the richest in the world. They don't have any social problems compared to other places in southern Sweden like Malmö or Landskrona. They have 3,6 % unemployment when the national ratio is 8,4 %. If vellinge can not afford to help these children, who on earth can?

The protests show the great Western misunderstanding that everyone comes here, as if these 90 children were all refugees in the world. The greatest numbers of refugees still live in very poor countries neighbouring their home countries, and we are simply helping out, as little as we can.

The scandal that is now played up in national media is a huge disgrace, not much different from the Bulgarian waste scandal.  But we are talking living, vulnerable children, that need any help they can get. But at least we are processing them in the European way...

*We don't really have mayors in Sweden, but I use the word for convenience. He has a similar position.

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