Climate change, crisis, anti-ziganism: from floods in Romania to arson in Stockholm

Niculaie, 64 years old, rumanian citizen, is in Högdalen. He was recently thrown out of his temporary home by Swedish police. This was ordered through the enforcement authority by the city hall of Stockholm.

“In the place we used to live, there were floods, so we lost our house and all the harvest. We came here to beg for money. People have helped us with what they could. We thank these people from our hearts, for understanding our situation. But it is not working out anymore. We have been sleeping in the forest under trees and under bridges.”

The circumstances, that led these people from Romania to Stockholm, are terrible, we understand that. But I, and maybe others, see an important point in Niculaies story. The beggars did not just flee from extreme poverty and discrimination, but in some cases also from natural disasters.

When the floods in Serbia and Bosnia happened 4 months ago, it was in the news worldwide. Help was send to these countries and also Croatia and Romania, where the situation was very bad as well. But public attention disappeared rapidly, and people are left homeless.

Niculaie is one of many climate refugees. He had to flee from his home when the spring floods came and that is the main reason why he is now begging for money in Sweden.

The climate changes are the reason for the more and more extreme weather, with floods, droughts and forest fires, unequally spread over the regions of the planet. There’s a lot of agreement among researchers.

There is a direct link between the oil-fueled consumerist society and the extreme weather conditions, forcing people from their homes. And when these people come from a discriminated minority living in a country that is stricken hard by the crisis – a country forced by IMF to do massive cutbacks – then there are not many alternatives than to leave the country. For example to Sweden, to Stockholm, to the forest outside Högdalen.

“Someone put a fire on our tents and barracks. Two people suffered burns, one is in coma and the other was burned on 90% of the skin.”

Saturday, a group of Nazis marched through the center of Stockholm with massive police protection. Besides the planned demonstration, that the police has allowed, the Nazis even held an extra march in Södermalm where they chanted “ut med packet” (something like “throw out the rabble”).

Later that night, around four in the morning, there was an arson attack at the camp at Högdalstoppe. Two persons were severely injured and are at the hospital. And the reaction from the police? They dropped by and found that the fire was not set by anyone, they did not even bother to do a crime scene investigation.

The city hall of Stockholm had already decided for an eviction at 9 o’clock, on the grounds that the camp was not sustainable enough, but without helping the migrants find more sustainable housing. The attack at the camp did not change the city hall’s plans. The eviction went on.

The night after there was another arson attack, this time in a camp under the highway near Midsommarkransen. Again the police assumed that there was nothing to investigate. The newspaper chose to give all their attention to the drivers, who were disturbed by the smoke.

The neonazi-sect Svenska Motståndsrörelsen was cheering for the arson attacks at Twitter: ”things are starting to happen”. Other nazi-sympathizers are writing in Facebook, f.ex. some Jan Berglund that writes in full publicity: “burn the Gypsies, burn them to coal!”. But we all know: a report to the police will be ignored, the same way they ignored the arson attacks, even though everything points to a neonazi terror campaign. Right now the police is busy prosecuting the people protesting against the neonazi march.

The people living under the highway bridge came from Pitesti, a Romanian city close to the river Arges that has also caused floods in the recent years. But the floods is not the only reason that these people had to flee.

Like in other parts of eastern Europe, the Roma in Romania were stricken hard with unemployment when the industry of the East Block collapsed. Many people around Pitesti (not Roma but people from a group called Rudari) earns to their living by gathering sticks in the forest and sell them as firewoods. They are being accused by the police of stealing.

stockholm arson



This text is from and written by Rasmus Fleischer

Original text in swedish: