Refugees and the violence of welfare bureaucracies in Northern Europe
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Summer 2015. While the beaches of Greek islands received boat after boat of refugees, a large part of the space of the central station in Copenhagen was occupied by young Danish volunteers who distributed sandwiches, drinks, blankets, and second-hand clothes to crowds of people on the move, most fleeing wars in Syria and Afghanistan. Locals bought train and bus tickets so the travellers could continue their journey onwards to Sweden and beyond. Across the strait forming the Swedish–Danish border, the Sound (hereafter Öresund), in Malmö, Swedish volunteers were doing the same as their Danish counterparts. Only a few weeks later did Malmö municipality and the local branch of the Swedish Migration Agency send some of their employees to meet those who were on the move. The asylum seekers were slowly registered and accommodated by different authorities. After their encounters with police and border patrol agents, they met case- workers from the Migration Agency, healthcare professionals for medical check-ups, employees and managers from refugee camps, schoolteachers for their children, and many more representatives of the welfare state. Those encounters were to shape and form their experiences from that point onwards.
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