Asylum seekers are mainly accommodated in private houses and apartments rented by the Migration Agency or provided by private entities. Apartments are often located in a big apartment building and are considered as reception centres in the Swedish system but this is still on the basis of individual housing within the apartment buildings concerned.
The Migration Agency is responsible for supervising the accommodation of asylum seekers in ordinary flats in regular residential areas and to assist asylum seekers accordingly. The ordinary rules for the number of persons per room do not apply to asylum seekers, meaning that more people can live in a 3-room flat than is regularly the case when municipal authorities designate accommodation for citizens.
According to information from the Migration Agency, they assume that two people can share a room in an apartment when they assess how many places there should be in an apartment. In collective housing, there are individual assessments. But the conditions of the building and the property ultimately determine what is appropriate. The Migration Agency takes into account, among other things, escape possibilities, air flows in the ventilation, and how many people are allowed to share the kitchen and hygiene areas. When placing asylum seekers in temporary housing, the Migration Agency also make individual assessments to find the right place. In some cases when there are special needs, it may be necessary for individuals to live alone, even though there are several places in the same room or residence.
In a report investigating crimes in asylum reception centres in 2018, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reported several crimes. The most common crimes were assault (21%), vandalisation (19%) and drug offences (14%). Most of the assault committed concerned incidents between residents at the facilities (80%) and mostly involved men. The report indicated that mental illness issues and overcrowding were risk factors which contributed to increasing such incidents. The report also noted that there are only a few collective accommodations designed for women. It further highlighted that many crimes or incidents go unreported as a result of fear, a lack of trust in authorities, or the fear to jeopardize their asylum process. In 2020, the Swedish Church also reported that women are especially vulnerable and subjected to sexual harassment and assault.
While there are no reports of restrictions on leisure or religious activities, there are also complaints about the lack of organised activities during the asylum procedure. In some centres, pro bono organisations offer different activities and opportunities to learn Swedish in informal ways. The government has provided considerable funding to NGOs and educational associations to provide meaningful activities for all asylum seekers and to set up venues where asylum seekers can meet other people. Activities can be beginner’s courses in Swedish, information about Swedish society and the asylum process, children’s activities and outdoor activities including sports.
Since 1 February 2017, the Migration Agency is no longer responsible for organising meaningful activities for asylum seekers. This has been handed over to the County administration authorities (länsstyrelserna) in cooperation with civil society. Early intervention regarding asylum seekers involves providing activities to men and women who are seeking asylum or who have a residence permit but still live in the Migration Agency accommodation. The aim of such measures is to accelerate the integration process while the decision on the asylum claim is pending. It includes courses on the Swedish language, Swedish society and the Swedish labour market and health system.
The average duration of stay in reception system depends on the situation of the asylum seekers concerned:
|Average duration of stay in reception system: 2022|
|Category of applicant||Average stay (days)|
|Persons returning voluntarily||271|
|Persons forcibly removed||1,265|
|Persons granted permits referred to municipalities||724|
|Persons granted permits arranging other accommodation||603|
Source: Migration Agency, Monthly Statistical Report, December 2022, 30.