12:15 GMT +319 February 2019
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    Migrants wait for a bus at the shared bus station of the northern Swedish town Haparanda and its Finnish twin town Tornio on the Swedish-Finnish border on September 21, 2015.

    Swedes' Gifts to Migrants Tossed Away as Spa-Turned-Asylum Closes Down

    © AFP 2018 / ANNE KAURANEN
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    Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe (161)

    As the luxurious refugee accommodation Cape East in the town of Haparanda in northern Sweden is closing down after the expiration of the contract, clothes and other items Haparanda's helpful townsfolk donated to refugees are thrown away as redundant.

    As the asylum chaos broke out in the autumn of 2015, Sweden was facing the largest wave of immigration in its history. The Nordic nation of 10 million took in a record 163,000 asylum seekers, receiving thousands of people on peak days. To house all the newcomers, extra accommodation had to be provided urgently. Sweden tried housing the newcomers in tent camps, schools, former military barracks, hotels and private villas.

    In Haparanda, a town on the Swedish-Finnish border, asylum entrepreneur Bert Karlsson, who was reported to have made millions of kroner during the refugee crisis, opened the luxurious Cape East hotel for about 500 asylum seekers.

    In the past two years, the spa-turned-into-asylum repeatedly made headlines for perpetual unrest. A fire alarm went off at the property, which has been described as the world's most luxurious. Staff was reportedly abused, while local girls and women were molested by Cape East's residents in the streets of Haparanda.

    On April 21, however, East Cape will be emptied of its troublesome tenants due to the contract expiring. Resettlement to other accommodations in the municipality is already underway. Earlier this week, about 20 people moved out.

    ​"It's been a nice hotel for me. And we have been like a family here at East Cape. Although there are people from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran… it's a great mix, but it's like we were a big family anyway," Masoud Karimi Ghaleh Gazi, who will be transferred to Piteå, told local newspaper NSD.

    As the moving process is underway, previous gifts from Haparada residents to the newcomers, including clothes and bikes, are being thrown away in a garbage container, the Swedish news outlet Fria Tider reported.

    "All that is thrown in the container, we cannot take along to our next home. It won't fit in the van," a former Cape East resident told Fria Tider.

    عشاء جميل مع الاصدقاء

    Публикация от محمد حمزاوي (@hamzwi.tr) Янв 1 2016 в 2:11 PST

    Earlier this spring, Hotel Tornedalia, a similar site in nearby Övertorneå, was closed. This reflects the Swedish Migration Board's policy to eliminate former hotels, where food is served. Meanwhile, procurement of hotels for accommodation is not entirely uncommon in Swedish municipalities that suffer from a severe lack of housing. According to previous estimates, Sweden, a nation of roughly 10 million, will need 710,000 new homes by 2025.

    Haparanda (population 4,800) is Sweden's easternmost settlement in Norrbotten County, adjacent to Tornio, Finland.

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    refugee crisis, migrant crisis, Scandinavia, Sweden
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