Swedish city Gothenburg is building a camel park which it hopes will create jobs for migrants, bu the plans have been slammed as racist and “absurd” by a charity boss.
The city hopes the camel centre being built in the migrant-dominated suburb of Angered will be able to provide jobs for foreign residents who are otherwise struggling to find a place in the country’s labour market.
The camel park is part of a wider project to create low-carbon jobs in the area, which was greenlit near the end of last year when the municipality was granted almost 13 million Swedish krona (£1 million) in funding from the EU.
Project developer Géza Nagy hopes the park, at which visitors will be able to both pet and ride on the camels, will become a popular tourist attraction.
“The largest source of income will be from tourism. There is a huge interest in camels both in Sweden and abroad. We expect tourists from around the world, including from Japan and China.
“We think that Volvo or other companies can photograph their products with camels. We can also have fashion shows and sell various camel products”, he told Göteborgs-Posten.
Nagy said there are migrants from the Middle East and Somalia who have “extensive knowledge” of camels, adding that staff will receive training on how to breed and care for camels in the Nordic region.
However, according to Caritas director Gun Holmertz, the project is racist and shows a “colonial mindset” towards migrants living in Gothenburg’s suburbs.
“The project is absurd. [The people behind it] want to make Angered at some kind of exotic circus with immigrants, animals, and allotments that people living in the inner cities can come and watch,”, she said.
Angered resident Florence Hansen agreed, describing the project as “pure racism”. She said: “If I had wanted to work with animals or crops I would have gone back to Namibia. The money is needed for education, housing, and real jobs.
“We do not want more animals here. We immigrants are already a stigmatised group – this project is pure racism.”
Project manager Dan Melander defended the plans, telling Göteborgs-Posten: “This is definitely not a circus, and we do not claim that this is the solution for the entire northeast. This is just about to test new ways to build economies.”
Chairman of the city’s resource administration, which gave the camel park funding last year, Marina Johansson defended the project. She said: “We thought it was an exciting integration idea which could lead to jobs, and bring tourists to Angered.”
And Lena Salo, who backed giving funding to the centre, said: “I’m no expert on camels but I thought there was a basis. If this could lead to people getting a job, especially Somalis many of whom are very much outside the labour market, then I think it’s worth trying.”