May.24 - Swedish police are seeking reinforcements following a fifth night of damaging clashes in the capital, as questions are raised about the causes of the unrest. Kirsty Basset reports.
These aren't the usual images associated with Sweden - a nation often held up as a model society. Initially triggered by the killing of a 69 year old man wielding a machete - they're the worst riots Stockholm has seen in years. Police are seeking reinforcements as the unrest which began in an immigrant neighbourhood - continues to spread across the capital. But what's driving it? Bo Malmberg is a Professor of Human Geography at Stockholm University. (SOUNDBITE)(English) PROFESSOR OF HUMAN GEORGRAPHY AT STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY, BO MALMBERG SAYING: "The underlying cause, what we've found, is high levels of residential segregation. And increasing income gaps in Sweden." In fact Sweden has the fastest-growing inequality of any OECD nation. And while it ranks among the top countries for taking in asylum seekers, life for new migrants isn't always easy. It can be difficult learning the language - and crucially, accessing jobs. (SOUNDBITE)(English) PROFESSOR OF HUMAN GEORGRAPHY AT STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY, BO MALMBERG SAYING: "It takes about 7-8 years for an immigrant in Sweden in order to get a good connection to the labour market. So it takes a lot of time and it's difficult to learn Swedish and so on. But if you look at groups that have been here about 8-10 years, it's working quite OK I would say. Much of the problems are related to people who are newly arrived in Sweden. They have large problems and certainly there is discrimination on the labour market which makes it difficult for people coming from other countries." Unemployment for foreign-born Swedes is 16 percent, compared to 6 percent for natives. Average living standards are still among the highest in Europe, but successive governments have failed to substantially reduce long-term youth unemployment and poverty, affecting immigrant communities the most.