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Swedish Migration Board Staff Bedeviled By Death Threats From Angry Applicants

 
 
 
 
 
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Being a clerk at Sweden’s Migration Board is anything but a cakewalk due to vast workloads and occupational hazards. For instance, some of the asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected choose to track down the Migration Board employees responsible.

Employees at the Swedish Migration Board are exposed to tampering and intimidation, even reportedly receiving death threats and menacing phone calls during off hours. The rise may be attributed to the fact that many of the applicants from the “bumper crop” year of 2015 are now being rejected.

According to Swedish national broadcaster SVT, the Migration Board staff is facing a tough environment. In July and August of this year alone, 25 bullying incidents occurred in just Stockholm. Additionally, six employees were contacted privately in an unsolicited manner, while another twelve cases of mental stress among staff were recorded. Between September 1, 2015 and August 31, 2016, a total of 2,049 incidents were reported, including undesired contact via social media, e-mail and private phone numbers.

“You really look behind your back when leaving the workplace. There may be someone standing behind the door. Such situations induce fear, and you need to cope with it,” Swedish Migration Board chief safety officer Helena Liss told SVT.

Liss reported a marked increase in threats to Migration Board staff via social media or through direct contacts at home or by telephone.

Her report echoes that of Swedish Migration Board Regional Director Magnus Rodin. According to him, there’s been an increase in reported cases since 2015, when the immigration authorities had to employ more staff to cope with the migrant crisis. Although Rodin ascribed the rise of such cases to better reporting, he added that threats and violence against staff were “unacceptable.”

Additionally, every Migration Board reception has since employed extra security personnel to increase the safety of the staff and be able to prevent serious situations. However, the personnel itself have been advised to keep a low profile on social media so as not to attract extra threats.

According to the regulations, any security-related incident has to be reported to the police by the Swedish Migration Board, yet sometimes employees have to do it themselves.

Although the threats have clearly become more (and more varied), relatively few of them develop into actual violence. Since 2008, the number of violent incidents against staff has remained fairly stable. Of the total number of reported cases in 2016, violence incidents constituted “only” just over 1 percent, SVT reported.

After receiving a peak number of 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015, which marked the highest percentage of refugees taken in per capita in Europe, Sweden experienced a predicted drop in the number of migrants. In 2017, the Swedish Migration Board expects to take in about another 30,000, which marks a further decrease compared with similar numbers in 2016. In addition, the Migration Board is fully prepared to take in an extra 10,000 asylum seekers, if the refugee agreement between the EU and Turkey cracks.

At present, Sweden is still struggling to process the massive cluster of asylum applications, despite the fact the Migration Board repeatedly being slammed for running an overblown budget of 30 billion SEK (roughly $3.6 billion) and a disproportionate staff of over 8,000 employees.

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