In Sweden, the coronavirus highlights the flaws of the integration model

En Suède, le coronavirus met en évidence les failles du modèle d’intégration

STOCKHOLM | This is some default information, for others a lack of consideration: in Sweden, people of foreign origin are among the groups most affected by the coronavirus, a phenomenon that the authorities are trying to stem a sudden communication campaigns multilingual.

This kingdom of 10.3 million inhabitants, known for its policy of welcoming generous, has been granted asylum and family reunification to more than 400 000 people from 2010 to 2019, according to the immigration services. Overwhelmed by the influx of migrants, the country has, however, restored at the end of 2015 the controls at its border and tightened its conditions of reception.

But for many of these newcomers, integration has been difficult: several thousands of immigrants who are not proficient in Swedish and now find themselves without employment in a labour market that is highly qualified.

So well that they eventually settle in disadvantaged neighbourhoods on the outskirts of large cities, where they speak little Swedish, and rates of unemployment and crime are high.

The public health Agency of the country has revealed this week that the Swedish residents born in Somalia were over-represented among those in need of care in the face of the COVID-19), followed by those born in Iraq, in Syria, in Finland or in Turkey.

“We need to better reach out to these groups with different types of messages to better protect them,” conceded to the AFP, the epidemiologist of the agency, Anders Tegnell, stating do not know the reasons for this overrepresentation.

In Stockholm, the epicentre of the epidemic in Sweden, people of foreign origin represent more than 40% of the 13 000 cases of coronavirus recorded to date.

Figures published last week by the health authorities of the region show that the poorest neighbourhoods of the city (the so-called ” vulnerable zones “) recorded a more substantial increase in cases of coronavirus as it is elsewhere.

Over 550,000 people live today in one of these 61 areas across the country, according to a report commissioned in 2019 by the Global Village, an advocacy group of local law.

If the immigrants (foreign-born or having foreign-born parents) represent 24.9% of the national population, the rate rises to 74 % in these ” vulnerable areas “.

Wish to raise awareness

To Jakobsberg (a poor neighbourhood in the north-west of Stockholm) a group of seven teenagers begins under a spring sun of his information tour to warn people of the dangers related to the coronavirus.

Jackets green on the back, information brochures, and hand, each of these “young ambassadors” employed by the city council is trying to alert passers-by.

“First and foremost we try to reach those who do not understand what is going on in the Swedish media “, explains to the AFP Mustafa Jasem, age 17.

In Russian, Finnish, Arabic, tigrinya, somali… the pamphlets are available in twenty languages.

For Sofia Quell, local co-ordinator responsible for the segregation and integration to the mayor, these young people are mainly the authorities to more easily reach some people.

“It is not only possible to print information in different languages, it is also to find the information channels with which people are comfortable,” she explains.

The elect are also based on the sports clubs and cultural associations in order to communicate.

Lack of understanding

Inform is the key of the strategy the Swedish to fight against the coronavirus.

Until now, the nordic country has adopted a more flexible approach than other european countries in the face of the epidemic. The health authorities have called on everyone to ” responsibility “: social distancing, strict application of the rules of hygiene, isolation in case of symptoms.

The only major constraints, gatherings of more than 50 people have been prohibited, as are visits to the retirement homes.

At the end of march, the College of physicians Swedish-somali was reported that on the first 15 deaths occurring in Stockholm, six concerned persons of somali origin.

Interviewed by the public tv Swedish, Jihan Mohamed, a physician and member of the board of directors of the association, explained that the information was not available in Somali at the beginning of the health crisis, indicating that other factors could play in the face of this figure.

While Sweden has one of the highest in Europe, the highest percentages of households composed of a single person, in the somali community, “several generations may live in the same apartment,” details-t-it.

For Hamid Zafar, ex-director of a school in Gothenburg, born in Afghanistan, the lack of information is not the main cause of the problem – rather, it is the lack of understanding of the authorities in respect of these populations to modes social sometimes different.

For some of them, don’t visit to the elderly is the inconceivable, he notes in the columns of the Goteborgs-Posten.

But the real “dead angle” of the government, he insists, lies in the fact that some groups have their own social networks, their own hierarchies of power and their own authority figures.

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