Sweden: Emergency Calls in Foreign Languages up 34 Per Cent in 2017


The number of emergency calls to police and ambulances by people speaking foreign languages rose by 34 per cent in 2017, with Arabic and Somali being the most common.

Sweden saw a total of 7,783 emergency calls made by individuals speaking a language other than Swedish or English in 2017, requiring an even greater need for interpreters, according to SOS Alarm, the group who run the 112 emergency line.

Gunnar Bergström, who is responsible for the 112 emergency line, said: “The caller of SOS Alarm needs to be able to answer two questions: where are you and what has happened? With interpreting help, we get better precision in this in more conversations and reduce the risk of misunderstandings.

“Being able to speak their native language in an emergency can also be extremely important for feeling understood and it can also help to create security in a chaotic situation,” he said.

Bergström added that the increase in the number of calls from non-Swedish speakers was a “natural reflection of the society in which we live”.

The group say that staff are able to speak in Swedish and in English fluently but require third-party translators to help with other languages.

While the number of foreign-language calls has increased 34 per cent from 2016, it has skyrocketed 309 per cent from 2013, when there were only 241 foreign-language emergency calls.

Mass migration has made a dramatic impact on Sweden in the last decade, particularly in the wake of the 2015 migrant crisis. Sweden has become one of the fastest-growing countries in regard to population due to mass migration, according to European Union statistics.

The influx of migrants has also led to several problems for Swedish authorities, including a rise in Islamic radicalism. The chief of the Swedish Security Service (Säpo) blamed the rise of extremism on mass migration last year.

The economy has also been impacted by mass migration, with Swedish lawmakers proposing to raise the general retirement age in order to pay for the added social costs of an increased population.

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