Sweden’s decision to start rejecting asylum seekers from the Middle East will be of little consolation to its law enforcement community — officers say surging crime has already overwhelmed their resources.
Muslim migrants flocked in record numbers to Sweden in 2015, but now the country seeks to discourage future waves by rejecting 80,000 existing applicants. National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson telegraphed Wednesday that a policy reversal, while welcome news, comes too little, too late.
“We have to go to work against unrest in the asylum centers which places a much greater demand than might appear outwardly,” Eliasson told the Express. “In some places in Sweden this eats significant resources out of the police’s capability. From several sources there are reports that staff are poorly prepared to handle violence, threats and conflicts while there are too few security guards.”
Roughly 163,000 migrants applied for asylum in the Scandinavian country last year, which made it the highest per capita destination in Europe. Eliasson told the website he would need at least 4,100 addition employees to quell the chaos. He noted a recent report on asylum centers showing a jump of 148 incidents in 2014 to 322 in 2015.
“Police do not have the resources to handle all the disturbances at reception centers,” the report concluded.
Eliasson’s testimony comes in conjunction with a vicious attack on a 22-year-old employee at a reception center.
Alexandra Mezher was stabbed to death in Mölndal on Monday. She was trying to stop a fight that broke out at a youth center, BBC reported Tuesday. A 15-year-old migrant was arrested.
“I believe that there are quite many people in Sweden who feel a lot of concern that there can be more cases of this kind, when Sweden receives so many children and youth, who come alone [to seek asylum]” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told Radio Sweden on Tuesday, the website reported.
Other countries struggling to cope with increased crime since the arrival of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa include:
- Austria: Police allegedly tried to cover up evidence of sex attacks in Vienna.
- Finland: Police told Agence-France Presse there was “widespread sexual harassment” at a New Year’s Eve event where 1,000 asylum seekers congregated.
- France: Two Afghan migrants were arrested in connection with an attempted rape on a passenger train in Paris.
- Germany: Over 100 sexual assaults and robberies were perpetrated by Arab and North African migrants in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. Similar attacks happened in Bielefeld, Duesseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Stuttgart.
- Switzerland: Six women said they were sexually harassed by migrants at a New Year’s Eve event in Zurich. The attacks were described as “Cologne-style.”
Adding to the strain on Swedish law enforcement agencies, ironically, will be the nation’s plan to expel migrants. The Swedish Migration Agency told CNN on Wednesday that migrants have a de facto veto on the decision to remove them the country.
Charter flights will be booked to shuttle migrants to another destination, but they are allowed to reject the offer, the agency told the network in an email. Those cases will then be referred to police.