A small Swedish village has been torn apart from fighting between migrants and locals, and tensions between residents who want to accept refugees and residents who never wanted to accept any.
Tärnsjö, 90 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital Stockholm on the east side of the northern Europe country, has been completely changed since welcoming refugees to the village.
“Residents and newcomers have exchanged insults, thrown rocks and set fire to cars, leaving many on both sides scared to leave the safety of their homes,” reported the Daily Mail.
Far-right local councilor said that many of the villagers never wanted any refugees to enter the town, which typically has a population of 1,200.
“Racial tension has divided the village into two groups–those who support the immigrants and those who want them gone. There has been fighting between immigrants and the people living here,” he said.
“The village integration works badly because people don’t want immigrants in the village. This is no longer a happy community, it’s divided and is not a pleasant place to live.”
— Fox (@gregorfox) November 27, 2015
A principal complaint is the tax hike to accommodate the refugees.
“We have the highest tax rate in the county because we are paying for so many immigrants,” he said. “Everyone who comes gets an allowance of 200 Kronor (€20) a week and free housing, and who pays for that? Us, taxpayers.”
Andreas Pettersson, the local migration officer, hoped locals would change their mind once refugees started arriving but many have not.
Amidst reports of refugees stealing and assaulting locals–including stones being thrown at locals’ cars–residents have started hurling rocks at refugees, insulting their children as they make their way to school, and attacking a block of apartments that is currently a migrant center, reported the Express.
The immigrants have caused all kinds of trouble for us. I have friends whose storage spaces have been burgled by immigrants and bicycles have been stolen,” local Tobias Willhall said. “There is a really bad tension in the village because of the refugees.”
Another local, Rasmus Leng, who lives near the migrant center, said the refugees marked up his car with an air gun and make a lot of noise.
“They have been throwing stones and they scream a lot during the night,” he said. “And then with the attacks from racists upon that? It does not feel safe here, especially with my wife being pregnant.”
Things have reached a new level in much of Sweden, which was accepting floods of refugees before curbing the number after they overwhelmed many of the country’s towns and villages.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) November 25, 2015
Some Refugees Scared
The refugees, meanwhile, are scared for what will happen next.
Tamam lives in the center with his wife Rabaa, son Hamza, 13, and daughter Batoul, 12. Their car was torched, allegedly by locals.
“We have no problems with the vast majority of the people who are living here. We like living here. But there are some people who really seem to hate us,” he said. “We don’t feel afraid when we’re at home and all we want is peace and quiet.”
Negazi, a 25-year-old who made his way from Eritrea, said that he doesn’t feel in danger but wants to bring his wife and kids over.
“I want to claim asylum in Sweden so that I can bring my children and my wife over to have a better life. Apart from it being boring and there being nothing to do, the only thing I complain about is how long it takes to claim asylum in Sweden,” he said.
“I get 200 kronor a week from the government, so I have no complaints. But it’s an isolated place, so there is nothing to do here, it’s a bit boring.”
Thousands of immigrants have gone underground in Sweden, with Patrik Engström, head of the national border police, telling Aftonbladet newspaper that “We simply don’t know where they are.”
Sweden is supporting the new effort announced on November 30 to give Turkey funds and support to work to stem the flow of migrants from the Middle East and Africa into Europe.