Ukrainians hesitate to go to Sweden for fear of crime, government takes children with them

Ukrainian refugees in Poland are reportedly reluctant to board buses bound for Sweden, fearing their children could be taken away from them by Swedish social services and expressing concerns about shootings.

Jimmy Hemmingsson, a Swede from Stenungsund Municipality who rode a bus to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees get to Sweden, said he had great difficulty filling seats as few Ukrainians made the journey in the generous wanted to join the welfare state.

According to Hemmingsson, many of the refugees have expressed concern about Sweden’s high levels of fatal shootings and gun crime, which are among the highest in Europe.

In fact, deadly shootings have remained near record highs in recent years.

Some have also expressed concerns that their children could be taken away from them by the Swedish authorities and do not want to risk being separated from their children, Sveriges Radio reports.

“There are many rumors circulating. People are vulnerable, they hear one thing and then it becomes reality,” Hammingsson said.

The rumors come just a month after videos circulated through Arabic-language social media accounts claiming Swedish authorities were kidnapping Muslim children and separating them from their parents.

The allegations were also reported in the Middle East media, leading the Swedish government to dismiss the allegations. The stories have also been promoted by radical Islamist imams and the Muslim Nyans party, which has said it wants to demand a “special minority” status for Muslims in Sweden.

Despite the rumours, many Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Sweden since the Russian invasion of Ukraine erupted last month. In one case, however, a group of women alleged that men had repeatedly tried to break into their home.

“I don’t want to live here because I’m scared,” one refugee told Swedish media, adding, “It’s not as dangerous as in my country, but it’s also dangerous.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or by email to ctomlinson(at)

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