Sweden has opened its first migrant tent camp in a bid to cope with this year’s unprecedented influx. Nearly 200,000 migrants will have arrived in the country this year, leaving Sweden’s asylum system on the verge of collapse.
The camp, situated on moorland near Lund in southern Sweden, contains 17 heated tents, each of which can house 12 in a dormitory style arrangement. More accommodation will be added next year, bringing the total capacity for the camp up to 375 spaces, The Local has reported.
Rebecca Bichis, regional manager for the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) told Swedish public broadcaster SVT on Monday: “We hope that everything is in place, so the first people to arrive know that they will be well received.”
The first wave of 20 migrants is due to arrive imminently.
As the unprecedented wave of immigration hit Sweden, the country scrambled to find places to accommodate the newcomers. Gymnasiums, school sports halls and even ski resorts were turned over to migrant housing as the country’s migrant centres filled to capacity.
In November, the Swedish government had to concede that they could no longer cope with the influx. Asa Romson, deputy Prime Minister of Sweden broke down in tears at a press conference while announcing an end to Sweden’s open door asylum policy.
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told the assembled reporters: “The situation is untenable.
“To put it bluntly, more people will have to seek asylum and get protection in other European countries.”
Border checks were also put in place. According to the Swedish Migration Agency, the measure caused a thirty per cent decrease in the number of new arrivals.
The country is still, however, on course to welcome 190,000 asylum seekers this year alone, a full 100,000 more than was predicted at the beginning of the year. In March, as the pace of new arrivals picked up, Sweden tripled its capacity at migrant centres from 200 to 650, expecting a total of 90,000 people to come, a number which looks to be far exceeded.
Home Affairs Minister Anders Ygeman visited the tent camp recently, describing the accommodation as working “pretty well”.
“It’s not intended to be a lifelong solution but housing for a short period of time. But it’s good that it’s warm and tidy,” he said.