Hussien Abdelkader, Rural Development and Natural Resource Management - Master's programme
With the increasing number of international migrants, Sweden’s rural communities have received many migrants, including refugees, from the resettlement program—every receiving community plans to have good, welcoming, and integrating programs. During the arrival of asylum seekers in communities, the local civil society, followed by the faith organizations and Non-governmental organizations, welcomed them by preparing basic accommodations like clothes, books, and toys for the children. This is an ample opportunity for communities and newcomers to create social relationships and develop social trust. The study aims to investigate the challenges and opportunities for new arrivals in their new destination, investigate the acceptance and adaptation of a new geographical and weather, and explore the social relation between locals and new arrivals with their different cultural and religious exercises. Qualitative data collection is followed through semi-structured interviews and field observation and the empirical data collection is analyzed by thematic analysis. Findings from the study show that welcoming by all actors played a significant role and helped new arrivals start the integration process. Despite the positive results, the study identified the challenges of settlement refugees in rural municipalities. Being a refugee or asylum seeker in the new rural area started feelings of isolation early. Snowy weather in winter made migrants challenging to interact with host inhabitants, and staying home led to depression and feelings of loneliness. The language barrier, long wait for a resident permit, limited labor market, few public and shopping centers, and lack of citizen social network made new arrivals challenging in the integration process.