Humanitarianism is the serious side of Sweden

The image of Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian refugee lying face down in the water, dead on a beach in Turkey after drowning in a smuggler’s attempt to take his family to Greece, brought the refugee crisis into the homes and hearts of people around the world yesterday.

National Geographic – Will photo of drowned Syrian boy be a turning point?



I watched TV news in English, German, and Swedish last night in my hotel room in Malmo, Sweden. All the headline stories were about the refugee crisis.

Hungary and Greece are the stories I have been hearing for the past couple of weeks in the USA. Kos is a Greek island close to the Turkish mainland. The Kurdi family was attempting to reach Kos during the dark of night on a smuggler’s small boat when rough seas capsized the vessel killing Aylan, his five year old brother and mother. Aylan’s father survived. Two separate boats smuggling 23 Syrian refugees to Kos capsized yesterday killing 12, including five children.

Humanitarianism in Sweden

The other day while at home in California I read a story about a tourist site in Budapest written by a travel blogger I know. With the current refugee crisis happening in Hungary, I thought to myself that if I were in Budapest I would be writing a story about the refugee crisis rather than sharing information about tourist sites.

Now that I have been in Sweden for 24 hours, here is what I have learned about Sweden’s role in the EU refugee crisis.

In 2014 almost 25,000 children and young people came to the EU to seek asylum – an increase of over 75 percent compared with 2013*. And Sweden is the country in Europe that attracts the largest number of unaccompanied children.

In 2014, 29 percent of all children and young people that came to the EU ended up in Sweden, 18 percent in Germany, 10 percent in Italy and 8 percent in Austria.

Source: Migrationsverket

There were 11,743 applications for asylum in Sweden during August 2015. Add June and July asylum seekers for more than 26,000 total applications over the summer. This is the highest number of applications in more than a decade.

There are around ten million residents in Sweden. About 10% are foreign-born and came to Sweden from outside the EU. The largest populations are refugees from the wars in the Balkans, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Somalia. Syrians are currently the fastest growing foreign-born refugee group in Sweden.

Sweden takes in more refugees per capita than any other EU nation. The rapid influx of foreign-born refugees has resulted in increased support for the nationalist Sweden Democrat party with a platform of tougher immigration policies. Polls show the party has favorable support from 18% of voters compared to 12.9% in the general election one year ago.


Refugees Welcome Rally in Stockholm Sunday, September 6

More than 15,000 people have pledged support for a Refugees Welcome Rally in Stockholm this weekend. The idea began in Austria and Germany at football stadium rallies during August.

Emergency relief for refugee donations set a one day record Thursday when 2.5 million kroner ($290,000) was raised through a radio fundraiser. This exceeded the previous donations record for the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia.


Free Checked Luggage for Stockholm and Copenhagen flights to Greece

Nordic tour operators and Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia are letting travelers to Kos and Lesbos, Greece check an extra 20kg of baggage free to take clothing and donations for refugees. After a slow response to the initiative in June and July, tour operators report as many as 50 persons on a flight are traveling to Greece with donations for refugees this month.

Sounds like a program more airlines could promote for dealing with this current European refugee crisis.


In Munich, where 2,000 Syrian refugees arrived in the past week on trains from Hungary, police were overwhelmed with donations from local residents in the form of food, medicine, clothing and toys. Source:

There was a story last week in the New York Times: The Global Refugee Crisis, Region by Region (August 26). The United Nations says this has become the worst migration crisis since World War II.

Sweden in World War II

Yesterday, I downloaded photos from my iPhone and saw a photo I snapped in July at the Boston Holocaust Memorial.

Boston Holocaust Memorial-1

When I tweeted this photo, a reply from @differentplanet informed me that most went to Sweden. I was unaware of the rescue of Danish Jews during WWII.

Sweden has been on the front line of refugee crises for much of the past century. Humanitarianism is the serious side of Sweden.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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