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Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sweden: Tensions betwen locals and asylum seekers have reached boiling point in the small village of Tärnsjö

In the last few months, with 10,000 asylum seekers arriving a week, the country has reintroduced border controls and the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats has become the second largest party in Sweden, opinion polls show.
Instead Tärnsjö, a relatively small village with a population of 1,200, is a snapshot of those places where bubbling anger has spilled over into violence and arson.
 Racial tension has divided the village into two groups; those who support the immigrants and those who want them gone.
Far-right councillor Michael Ohman
Protesters have set fire to 17 immigration centres in the past two months – and the authorities have warned it is only a matter of time before someone is killed in the race-hate arson attacks engulfing this once-peaceful nation.
The problem in Tärnsjö, far-right local councillor Michael Ohman told MailOnline, comes down to the fact many of the villagers never wanted the migrants to move in. 
'Racial tension has divided the village into two groups; those who support the immigrants and those who want them gone,' he explained.
'There has been fighting between immigrants and the people living here.
'The village integration works badly because people don't want immigrants in the village. This is no longer a happy community, it's divided and is not a pleasant place to live.'
The councillor continued: 'We have the highest tax rate in the county because we are paying for so many immigrants.
Battle: The problems in Tärnsjö started when migrants, many of them living in this centre, began throwing stones at cars as they passed. Locals retaliated, and threw stones back
Battle: The problems in Tärnsjö started when migrants, many of them living in this centre, began throwing stones at cars as they passed. Locals retaliated, and threw stones back
Escalation: But then a window at the centre, which is sparsely furnished, was smashed. The next day a refugee family's car was burned. After that, the children were escorted to school by the police
Escalation: But then a window at the centre, which is sparsely furnished, was smashed. The next day a refugee family's car was burned. After that, the children were escorted to school by the police
Problem solving: Tärnsjö is not the only village where migrants have been housed. It is becoming more common as accommodation in the city becomes scarce, due to the sheer numbers arriving
Problem solving: Tärnsjö is not the only village where migrants have been housed. It is becoming more common as accommodation in the city becomes scarce, due to the sheer numbers arriving
Remote: Some don't like living so far out; one asylum seeker described Tärnsjö as 'boring'. Another bus of refugees refused to get off when taken to one isolated village, demanding to be taken elsewhere
Remote: Some don't like living so far out; one asylum seeker described Tärnsjö as 'boring'. Another bus of refugees refused to get off when taken to one isolated village, demanding to be taken elsewhere
Fury: The feeling in some cases is mutual. We didn't want them here, Michael Ohman, one of Tärnsjö far-right councillors, told MailOnline, it is ruining our village. It is no longer a happy place to live
Fury: The feeling in some cases is mutual. We didn't want them here, Michael Ohman, one of Tärnsjö far-right councillors, told MailOnline, it is ruining our village. It is no longer a happy place to live
Disappointed: Andreas Pettersson, the local migration officer, had hoped the village would accept the new arrivals, but is now faced with dealing with increasing hostilities between the two sides
Disappointed: Andreas Pettersson, the local migration officer, had hoped the village would accept the new arrivals, but is now faced with dealing with increasing hostilities between the two sides
'Everyone who comes gets an allowance of 200 Kroner (£20) a week and free housing, and who pays for that? Us, taxpayers.'
Anders Petterson, a migrant liaison officer, admits many were 'outraged' when they began to arrive.
He hoped people he knew in the area would help them to integrate and never anticipated one day police would be called to escort migrants' children to school as locals hurled abuse at them.
Things have disintegrated to such an extent that children aged just five sometimes run the gauntlet of hate and intimidation and sometimes arrive at Tärnsjö Skola too terrified and upset to speak.
Even teachers there are too frightened to walk with them - worried they too will become targets of hate. 
Tärnsjö Skola Principal Nina Lundén told MailOnline: 'Children said they were frightened, that they did not feel safe when they were going from their home to the school. 
The situation became so fierce the teachers and police had to walk with the children from the centre to the school. But there were teachers who wouldn't walk with the children, because they were afraid of being threatened.
Anders Petterson 
'We then did everything we could to help them and arranged for them to be escorted in order to keep them safe.'
The problems are said to have begun in September when migrants started throwing stones at locals' cars, and residents retaliated by throwing them back.
The fires were further stoked on social media - and eventually locals, thought to be teenagers, began organising 'events' where a gang would gather to throw stones at the block of flats which has been turned into a makeshift migrant centre.
Mr Petterson said: 'This went on for about two weeks at a low scale, almost every day. It escalated windows at the centre were smashed.
'This scared the migrants. They had come from Syria - from a war zone - to this.'
The following day a car belonging to a refugee family was set on fire. 
Teachers aren't the only ones in the village worried of rising tension, and what it might mean for their own safety.
Rasmus Leng lives just metres from the migrant block, and has witnessed much of the problem first-hand.
'The neighbours living in the apartment nearby have caused all kinds of devilry,' he told MailOnline, pointing to marks on his car, where someone had shot an air gun at it.
'I've heard a lot of noise and disturbance among them. I don't like them.
'They have been throwing stones and they scream a lot during the night.
'And then with the attacks from racists upon that? It does not feel safe here, especially with my wife being pregnant.'
Scared: Rasmus Leng, who lives just a few metres from the refugee centre, has witnessed some of the worst of the behaviour for himself. He complains of noise, and says his car has been damaged by an air gun
Scared: Rasmus Leng, who lives just a few metres from the refugee centre, has witnessed some of the worst of the behaviour for himself. He complains of noise, and says his car has been damaged by an air gun
Crime: Tobias Willhäll accuses the new arrivals of stealing bicycles and breaking into storage facilities. But he says it is all down to just one family that has caused 'all these troubles'
Crime: Tobias Willhäll accuses the new arrivals of stealing bicycles and breaking into storage facilities. But he says it is all down to just one family that has caused 'all these troubles'
Fearful: Other villagers (not pictured) told MailOnline how they feared the rising tensions could end with something similar to the attack on migrant pupils in the town of Trollhättan, which left two students dead
Fearful: Other villagers (not pictured) told MailOnline how they feared the rising tensions could end with something similar to the attack on migrant pupils in the town of Trollhättan, which left two students dead
Tobias Willhall added: 'The immigrants have caused all kinds of trouble for us. I have friends whose storage spaces have been burgled by immigrants and bicycles have been stolen.
'It is particularly one family. It is the one which has caused all these troubles.
'There is a really bad tension in the village because of the refugees.'
Others were nervous about how much further the violence might go.
They fear they are on the brink of a similar incident to the one where Anton Lundin Pettersson, 21, walked into a school in Trollhättan in north of Gothenburg, wearing a helmet, a Star Wars mask and used a sword to kill two migrant students.
Back in Tärnsjö, Lillemor, a hairdresser in her mid-fifties who didn't want to give her surname, said: 'I'm concerned about the situation in the village.
'Something like this might explode like happened in Trollhättan.'
The refugees are just as scared. Tamam, who is living in the apartments with his wife Rabaa, son Hamza, 13, and daughter Batoul, 12, is the refugee whose car was torched.
Taman said: 'We have no problems with the vast majority of the people who are living here. We like living here. But there are some people who really seem to hate us.
'We don't feel afraid when we're at home and all we want is peace and quiet.' 
The feeling is mutual. Father-of-two Tamam, not pictured, said most of the residents were nice, there was some who seemed to 'really hate' him and his family, as well as the other refugees 
The feeling is mutual. Father-of-two Tamam, not pictured, said most of the residents were nice, there was some who seemed to 'really hate' him and his family, as well as the other refugees 
Taxes: Anger comes from the benefits given to the migrants. Councillor Mochael Ohman said: 'Everyone who comes gets an allowance of 200 Kroner (£20) a week and free housing, and who pays for that? Us, taxpayers’
Taxes: Anger comes from the benefits given to the migrants. Councillor Mochael Ohman said: 'Everyone who comes gets an allowance of 200 Kroner (£20) a week and free housing, and who pays for that? Us, taxpayers'
Frustration: Ngazi, an Eritrean refugee, arrived in June 2014 after crossing the Mediterranean from Libya. He is yet to be interview by the Migration Board, so that they can assess his claim
Frustration: Ngazi, an Eritrean refugee, arrived in June 2014 after crossing the Mediterranean from Libya. He is yet to be interview by the Migration Board, so that they can assess his claim
Negazi, 25, who arrived in Sweden from Eritrea in July 2014. His main complaint about Tärnsjö is not about racial tensions, but about there being nothing to do in the isolated village, which has just one small shop, and no pubs or bars.
All the same, the father-of-two said his life is better in Sweden than back home.
'I want to get a job and I want to get an education,' he told MailOnline
'I left Eritrea because me and my family were in danger from the government. I was critical of the government and I was being threatened. I felt that I would come to harm if I stayed, so I got on a boat in Libya for the coast of Sicily.
'It was a very dangerous journey and I thought we were going to die. I thought the boat would sink and I was going to drown.'
Negazi said he left behind two children in Eritrea.
'I want to claim asylum in Sweden so that I can bring my children and my wife over to have a better life.
'Apart from it being boring and there being nothing to do, the only thing I complain about is how long it takes to claim asylum in Sweden,' he moaned.
'I have been here since June 2014 and I haven't even been interviewed by the migration board. I get 200 kroner a week from the government, so I have no complaints. But it's an isolated place, so there is nothing to do here, it's a bit boring.' 
Arson: The tensions in Tärnsjö are far from a one off. Across the country, buildings which are earmarked to house asylum seekers are being set fire to at an alarming rate
Arson: The tensions in Tärnsjö are far from a one off. Across the country, buildings which are earmarked to house asylum seekers are being set fire to at an alarming rate
Stark warning: These fires were set at a rate of one every two days by the middle of the autumn. Firefighters have warned that, should it continue, someone will end up dead
Stark warning: These fires were set at a rate of one every two days by the middle of the autumn. Firefighters have warned that, should it continue, someone will end up dead
Burning: The 17 fires have taken place all over the country, from the middle of September throughout October
Burning: The 17 fires have taken place all over the country, from the middle of September throughout October
Outside of Tärnsjö, fire has become the weapon of choice for extremists angry at how many people have arrived in Sweden since the start of the year.
Even the government has taken action, introducing border controls for the first time since the migrant crisis began.
Anna Kinberg Batra, the leader of Sweden's centre-right Moderate Party, which has always been pro-asylum seekers, has gone one step further, and called for people to be turned away at the border.
'If we do not act now, we will have a collapse in the system,' she warned, according to Deutche Welle.
The numbers speak for themselves. Since September, 80,000 refugees have arrived - the same number of people as throughout the entirety of last year. On one day alone, 2,000 arrived - another record in its own right.
At the end of July, the official estimate for the total number of asylum seekers was hovering around the 74,000 mark. It now believes the number will be closer to 190,000.
For Sweden, with a population of 9.8million, that is a population increase of almost two per cent. The equivalent in the UK would be adding more than a million people to the population, or six million extra people in the U.S.
The result is the country cannot house all those arriving, with the government's Migration Board saying it needs another 45,000 homes to meet demand.
Hidden: The Swedish government is now keeping the location of its refugee centres a secret
Hidden: The Swedish government is now keeping the location of its refugee centres a secret

ARSON ATTACKS AGAINST ASYLUM SEEKERS' HOUSING IN SWEDEN 

Since mid-September, a total of 17 planned or existing asylum seekers' housing in Sweden have been targeted by arsonists.
NOVEMBER
10 November: A storage and office building in Forshaga, Värmland, is set on fire. The town has some 6,200 inhabitants. The local municipality had started investigating if the building could be used as asylum seeker's housing.
7 November: A planned asylum seekers' housing is burned to the ground in Floda, near Lerum, south-west Sweden, a town with some 8,000 inhabitants. The reason for the fire is still unknown. 
OCTOBER
29 October: Unknown assailant/assailants pours flammable liquid through a window at a care home which doubles as a home for unaccompanied minors in Tjörnarp, a village with some 750 inhabitants, near Höör in southern Sweden. The liquid was set alight but staff managed to put it out. 
28 October: Three people taken to hospital after arson at a Swedish Migration Board arrival housing  in Malmö. 
28 October: Fire at planned asylum seeker's housing in the affluent Stockholm suburb of Danderyd.
27 October: Fire caused by a burning item being thrown into planned asylum seeker's housing at a former school in the small village of Färingtofta(population: 70) in Skane, southern Sweden.
26 October: Fire at housing for unaccompanied minors in Lund (see incident on October 13). Staff put it out. Police believe it to be arson.
26 October: A number of small fires at planned asylum seekers' housing in former school in Oskarshamn(population around 17,300). Witnesses say they saw two people throwing stones, pouring liquid and setting it alight.
24 October: Second fire at an asylum seekers' housing in Munkedal (population: 3,700), southwest Sweden - same as on October 20.
23 October: A building used for children's summer camps near Eskilstuna, a city west of Stockholm in south-central Sweden is burned to the ground. The local municipality had started investigating whether the building could be used to house asylum seekers. 
22 October: A planned asylum seekers' housing in Perstorp(population: 5,700) in Skane, southern Sweden, set alight. Police are carrying out an arson investigation 
20 October: Fire at an asylum seekers' housing in Munkedal, southwest Sweden. 14 people evacuated.
18 October: Former school in Onsala, a locality with a population of 12,000 in Kungsbacka, Halland, which was set to be turned into housing is burned to the ground
17 October: Former school in Kånna(population: 352) near Ljungby in Småland, southern Sweden, ready for asylum seekers to move in, burned to the ground.
13 October: Fire in barracks in Arlöv, Skåne, the day before unaccompanied minors were due to move in. Arlöv is located just eight miles from Lund, where the local Sweden Democrats branch published a list of addresses of planned asylum seekers' housing on their Facebook page. 
SEPTEMBER 
29 September: Fire in a storage facility at a camping site near Stenungsund, western Sweden, which has partly been used to house asylum seekers and refugees.  
15 September: A flat in housing facility for unaccompanied minors in Boden, north Sweden, is set alight. 
'We have a situation where people are forced to sleep in tents outside the Migration Boards offices, and sleeping in their receptions,' says Mikael Hvinlund, the Swedish Migration Board's director of communications.
'And we have a situation where the Migration Board no longer is able to provide shelter to the applicants.
'At our ferry terminals and train stations unaccompanied children disappear every day, it's not fair to either us or them.'
There is no longer space in the cities, so officials are turning to the more remote villages like Tärnsjö.
The decision hasn't always been popular with residents or migrants.
A coach load of asylum seekers, faced with having to stay in wooden huts in Limedsforsen, north-west of Stockholm, refused to get off the bus.
It was, they said, too cold and too remote. They wanted to go to a big city.
The alternative is the new tent cities, where the latest arrivals will spend the bitterly cold winter.
But as the Migration Board struggles with this problem, support for the far-right Swedish Democrats continues to grow.
The SDs want the border checks in place permanently, and have started a nationwide campaign, calling for a referendum on migration.
Their supporters have been greeting those arriving on Greece's beaches with letters, written in English, warning that Swedish 'society is falling apart' and 'the wealth has gone'.
It was signed by the Swedish Democrats, as well as 'the people of Sweden', according to SVT.se.
While it may not refer to all the people of Sweden the SD does have large support, said to have risen to one in five voters in recent months.
And among its number are those prepared to go a step further than leaflets and referendums to 'reclaim' their country. 

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