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Name / Title

Regional cooperation, refugee resettlement

Case Study Region

Övre Norrland, Sweden

Geographical coverage

The Umeå region: The urban municipality of Umeå and the rural municipalities of Bjurholm, Nordmaling, Robertsfors, Vindeln and Vännäs in the county of Västerbotten, Övre Norrland.


Municipal cooperation


Main activity / focus


Develop a common approach to refugee resettlement in the Umeå region and to share experiences and knowledge between the municipalities involved. The ambition is to offer the same quality of service in all six municipalities. The main focus has been to make it easier for immigrants to find a job in the region.

Target beneficiaries / market


All refugees who are interested in settling in the Umeå region are targeted by the initiative. 

Year established



Current Funding source(s)

The initiative received support from the national Migration Board in the first phase between 2006 and 2008. The initiative was then carried out in the form of a project. After the project ended the six municipalities involved took over the financing of the collaboration.

When specific projects are implemented in addition to the general daily work of the common resettlement service in the Umeå region external financing is applied for from different national actors.


The urban municipality of Umeå and the rural municipalities of Bjurholm, Nordmaling, Robertsfors, Vindeln and Vännäs in the county of Västerbotten, Övre Norrland.



Information about the common resettlement service can be found here:




This initiative is interesting since it shows an example of rural and urban municipalities cooperating to enhance their refugee service and make it more efficient. It is also a way of making sure the service for refugees has the same standard in all municipalities. In addition the municipalities see themselves as more attractive when cooperating – then they can offer both rural and urban life.

The initiative is both directed at locals and refugees. It works with the attitudes of the locals as well as with the public treatment of refugees. 

The responsibility of resettlement lay at the municipal level. In 2006 the national level put pressure on more municipalities to start welcoming refugees. Then the municipality of Umeå came up with the idea to apply for project funding to create a joint refugee resettlement service in the Umeå region. The municipality of Umeå has worked with resettling refugees continuously during the last 25 years while some of the other five municipalities also had offered this service, but not in recent years.

The initiative aims to:

  • Create effective introduction
  • Develop common guidelines
  • Utilize the knowledge and contacts that existed in the region on how best to developing the common structure of work
  • Make the area a natural labor market region even for immigrants and build opportunities to live in one place and work in another, in the region (which also may reduce the housing shortage in Umeå and increase number of immigrants in other communities that have good housing conditions)
  • Influence the situation of refugees and integration positively by assisting with family reunification, help in finding work, assistance to enter the voluntary sector
  • Increase the population of the municipalities and the region through making the region attractive for immigrants

The initiative started with the development of common guidelines and procedures and a network where experiences and knowledge could be shared among staff in the six municipalities. With time a need to develop the activities further by producing more guidelines and developing more common approaches was met. When a need for a specific activity is seen but no room is found in the budget projects have been started thanks to granting of external national funding.

Three employees working for all six municipalities have also been hired: a development manager, a family reunion counselor and a labour market consultant. Especially the family consultant is unusual and appreciated. In Sweden NGOs or volunteers are in general the ones to help refugees with family reunification issues – not the municipalities.

Integration is approached in three different ways:
  • By making it easier for immigrants to find jobs. “According to our experiences you are to a large extent integrated into the society when you have a job in Sweden.” (Inga-Lill Nordstrom, development manager, the Umeå region’s refugees, (19.10.10))
  • By making it easier for immigrants to become part of the activities in the voluntary sector. E.g. through contacts with different kinds of associations.
  • Through dissemination of information: access to information about the society, the rights, obligations and opportunities.

The activities are contributing to the creation of a multicultural society by making the area more attractive for refugees to move to, and by increasing integration. A higher number of immigrants also increase the number of inhabitants in the region which contributes to increased service provision or possibilities to maintain current service levels.

The division of labor and responsibility for refugee resettlement between municipalities and employment agencies will change with the introduction of a new law during autumn 2010. Hence the future role of the Umeå region is uncertain at the moment but according to the interviewee the plan is to continue the municipal cooperation.  


Contact details


Responsible for the development of the initiative
Inga-Lill Nordström, The Umeå region refugeeresettlement
0046 (0)90-16 10 00 (Municipality of Umeå)