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    Sweden Placed Refugee Children in Foster Families Suspected of Having Daesh Ties

    © AFP 2019 / JOE KLAMAR
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    Sometimes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. During the chaotic months of the migrant crisis, unaccompanied refugee children arriving in Sweden were found to be repeatedly placed in foster homes with family members suspected of joining Daesh.

    In autumn 2015, at least four unaccompanied minors were placed in foster homes where family members are suspected to have traveled to Syria to join Daesh, a survey by Swedish Radio has shown. Additionally, several family members of the foster families had convictions, which did not stop the Swedish authorities from placing the refugee children there.

    The four children were placed in two foster homes in the Vivalla district of the city of Örebro. This area is on the police's list of socially vulnerable places that also happen to experience problems with violent religious extremism. One of the sons in the foster family was a convicted felon with two counts of assault. Another had traveled to Syria, where Swedish police suspect him to have joined Daesh. According to the Swedish authorities, it was nevertheless the best place to grow up for a refugee kid.

    "It was a disaster. There were many problems there," one of the affected refugee children told Swedish Radio on condition of anonymity, describing the family as "crazy." On one of the occasions, the son had allegedly threatened his sister with a knife and threatened to kill her.

    Vivalla police officer Fredrik Malm told Swedish radio that it was hardly an appropriate living environment. According to him, better checks should have been performed. At the same time, he stated, it sometimes demands involvement from the police or the security forces, which are disinclined to disclose information regarded as sensitive.

    Claes Lagergren, social welfare officer at Täby Municipality, which referred the children to the dysfunctional home, was self-critical and admitted to having failed in his evaluation of the family.

    "Of course, we cannot be proud of the fact that we failed to have done we should have," Claes Lagergren.

    In 2015, Sweden was eager to play a key role in finding a solution to the migrant crisis and took in a total of 163,000 asylum seekers, which is the highest figure in Europe in relation to the country's population of 10 million. Around 70,000 of the asylum seekers were children, of which 35,369 were registered as "unaccompanied."

    Overwhelmed by the influx, Swedish municipalities that were unable to arrange accommodation had to seek the service of foster families for a reward, as in the Vivalla case.

    Earlier in January, the Swedish children's rights NGO BRIS said refugee children were a particularly vulnerable group, having experienced war and trauma, which increases the risk of mental problems.

    "Children often suffer from mental trauma from both the flight and the war memories, so it is the society's responsibility society to support them," BRIS Secretary General Magnus Jägerskog told Swedish daily Göteborgs-Posten.

    Meanwhile, the proportion of unaccompanied children accepted into correctional facilities or custody has nearly doubled in two years. In 2016, one in three underage inmates belonged to this group, Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reported. The most common misdemeanors are substance abuse and vagabondage.

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    Tags:
    refugee children, foster care, Daesh, Scandinavia, Sweden
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