Sweden has announced it intends to restore SEK4.2 billion (US$398 million) of the SEK9.1 billion (US$850 million) it initially diverted from its international development budget in 2022 - roughly 18% of its annual development assistance spending - to cover the cost of hosting Ukrainian refugees in-country.
Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation Matilda Ernkrans said that the latest decision followed a lower forecast from the country’s migration agency last month on Ukrainian refugee numbers this year.
The move - which follows an earlier reinstatement of SEK4.2 billion (US$398 million) in June 2022 for climate, democracy, and human rights assistance - was met by relief by development advocates. They have criticized Sweden’s proposed development budget cuts, highlighting the government's hasty decision to freeze substantial parts of development spending before the full impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was clear.
Currently, SEK6.1 billion (US$570 million) of the SEK57.4 billion (US $5.3 billion) in development spending for 2022 - roughly 11% - will go to in-donor refugee costs. This represents a lower share than the period from 2015-2017 when Sweden took in large numbers of Syrian refugees, though higher than the pre-COVID-19 pandemic years of 2018 and 2019.