Migrant center banned from holding memorial to Swedish social worker in case it upsets migrants
Staff at a housing centre for child migrants in Sweden have been banned from holding a memorial service in honour of a fellow social worker who was murdered last week.
Alexandra Mezher, 22, was stabbed to death when she tried to break up a fight between two teenage boys at a home for unaccompanied minors in Molndal, Gothenburg.
When staff at a similar accommodation in Örnsköldsvik, north-east Sweden, wanted to hold a memorial for Miss Mezher, the council said no.
Miss Mezher’s murder sent shockwaves across Sweden, and has highlighted a number of issues that has followed in the wake of the large number of asylum seekers to arrive in Sweden in the past 12 months.
Staff and social workers at a home for unaccompanied minors in Örnsköldsvik, a town on the north-east coast, were deeply affected by the killing of a colleague in the workplace.
‘What happened in Molndal could have happened here. That’s how bad it is,’ Carl Lindahl told SVT Vasternorrland.
Mr Lindahl, who has worked in homes for unaccompanied minors for three-and-a-half-years added that housing facilities for child migrants all over the country are ‘unreasonably overcrowded’.
Mr Lindahl wanted to do a memorial service for ‘colleague’ Miss Mezher, but said that a superior immediately got in touch and forbade them from using council premises.
They were also told not to fly the Swedish flag at half-mast, SVT reports.
A representative for Örnsköldvik council later spoke to SVT Vasternorrland and said the decision to ban the ‘manifestation’ had been done to secure the well being of the children.
Administrative manager Katarina Jensstad said the council had ruled that it was better to hold the memorial service in premises that was not a home for unaccompanied minors.
A service for Miss Mezher was later held at a nearby church in Örnsköldvik, but staff at the housing facility who were scheduled to work, were told they could not attend during working hours.
Miss Mezher was stabbed in the thigh and back just before the end of her night shift, on Monday morning last week. She was taken to hospital and died from her injuries.
The alleged attacker, a boy claiming to be a 15-year-old from Somalia, is being held in a secure psychiatric hospital in Gothenburg and has been remanded in custody until February 11.
Swedish prosecutors say HVB Living Nordic may be charged with corporate manslaughter and violating work environment law over the murder of Miss Mezher in her workplace.
The housing facility where she worked is home to ten migrants and refugees aged 14-17 who have all applied for asylum in Sweden without a parent or guardian.
Sweden’s Work Environment Administration is investigating whether HVB Living Nordic broke work environment laws for allowing Miss Mezher to work on her own with ten teenage boys.
HVB Living Nordic is a private company paid by the local authority to provide housing and care for unaccompanied minors, which has been operating since late 2013.
In 2014, Molndal received £22.6million to provide housing for unaccompanied minors – the most state funding per capita than any town or city in Sweden.
That same year, HVB Living Nordic reported a profit margin of 21.9 per cent.
HVB’s chief executive is Patrick Sjögren, 46, former CEO of 5050Poker, an gambling website which filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after it emerged that the company had used players’ money to cover losses.
Mr Sjögren’s company faces questions over how Miss Mezher to work alone overnight with almost a dozen vulnerable teenage boys.
Staff at the centre warned a year ago that due to lack of staff, ‘something serious will happen here’.
The warning came from a therapist in December 2014 – despite the fact that the facility had been open less than four months at the time
Sweden has been struggling with the continent’s biggest migration crisis since World War II.
A country of 9.8 million, Sweden took in more than 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015, the highest number of refugees and migrant arrivals per capita in the EU.
Out of the 160,000 who applied for asylum, 35,369 were unaccompanied minors.