Caller's powerful case for supporting migrants after working in Swedish system

11 August 2020, 15:25 | Updated: 11 August 2020, 15:33

By Seán Hickey

This caller was baffled that people cannot see the contribution refugees and asylum seekers can make to society, after his experience in Sweden.

James O'Brien was told by caller Dominic whose experience of working with an NGO in Sweden opened his eyes to how countries can benefit from helping refugees and asylum seekers.

He began by telling James that he believed that the word refugee "dehumanises people," and doesn't use it because of that, on top of the word refugee having a negative connotation.

"Everyone sees refugees as having a handout or looking for something," he said.

"These people were doctors, these people were lawyers, they literally just had unfortunate circumstances that brought them to our door."

He went on to explain how he was staggered by the determination of migrants crossing the Mediterranean or the Channel.

"To get on a boat in the night, crammed with people you don't know, not everyone is from Syria no one's even speaking the same language...I just felt terrified hearing it - I couldn't do it."

This caller suggested the Swedish effort to integrate migrants is a major success
This caller suggested the Swedish effort to integrate migrants is a major success. Picture: PA

He told James that he "had to have therapy because of the stories," of refugees, who told him of their trek from Greece all the way to Sweden and how crime and abuse peppered their journey.

"I can't even walk from zone four to zone one, let alone crossing the continent of Europe to get to Sweden."

Dominic told James how he was impressed by how the Swedish people try to integrate migrants into society, and felt that the UK could learn a lot from the Swedish model.

"If you give someone your language, they can be your doctor tomorrow, they can be your lawyer tomorrow."

James summed up the arguments of Dominic by telling listeners why they've heard that Sweden has had a negative experience during the migrant crisis.

"The Swedes had to be portrayed as disastrous and as selling their own country down the river because the alternative would be to admit that actually looking after refugees is the right thing to do."