More money is needed to cover social and housing costs linked to the record number of asylum seekers taken in by Sweden last year, according to the country’s migration board, Migrationsverket.
“Migrationsverket now manages a system that deals with more people than there are living in Sweden’s fifth largest municipality,” its Director General Anders Danielsson told Swedish media on Wednesday, after sending a dossier to the Swedish government describing his agency as “very underfunded”.
He said that although the government has already allocated 12.5 billion kronor ($1.45 billion) to tackling refugee arrivals in Sweden in 2016, a further 28.4 billion kronor ($3.29 billion) is needed this year. The director also predicted that an additional 32 billion ($3.7 billion) should be raised in time for 2017.
Director General Anders Danielsson speaking to Swedish media last year. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT
Sweden’s Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson responded by saying that the government had set its budget last autumn based on the agency’s summer predictions about the number of anticipated arrivals, which vastly underestimated the eventual influx of refugees to the Nordic country.
“This is a consequence of the fact that there were very many [arrivals] in 2015 who sought asylum. But the assessment of the government was that this was not sustainable and that is why we have taken steps to reduce the number of asylum seekers,” she told the TT news agency.
Sweden announced it was limiting residency permits and introducing border checks at the end of last year.
Migrationsverket’s latest predictions suggest that between 70,000 and 140,000 people could seek asylum in the Scandinavian country in 2016.
A total of 180,000 people are currently housed in temporary accommodation provided by the agency, of which 150,000 are still waiting for a decision on their residency applications, according to figures quoted by TT.