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Freezing conditions for Romanian beggars

Published måndag 12 januari 2015 kl 15.56
Landowner warns damp chill is still dangerous
(2:04 min)
Tälten som används i lägret är också i dåligt skick. Foto: Markus Alfredsson.
The tents are in poor repair. Photo: Markus Alfredsson.

A camping site in south-western Sweden shows the kinds of harsh living conditions that beggars from countries like Romania can expect in Sweden.

This place is damp and freezing, says landowner Siinto Hämäläinen, looking at a ramshackle gathering of tents pitched on his field.

Many of the Romanians who come to Sweden to beg live in these conditions. The ones on Siinto Hämäläinen's land are the lucky ones; they won't face eviction, unlike those who set up on council-owned land in Stockholm.

But the landowner warns they should not come to his field. At least not yet. He tells Swedish Radio's P4 Sjuhärad station that he can understand that it is even colder in Romania, but living in a damp cold tent is also a horrible experience.

Many of the homeless EU citizens begging on the Swedish streets are from the Roma minority of eastern Europe, although there are no statistics of the number or background of people who come to beg in Sweden.

Roma from countries like Romania and Bulgaria have faced discrimination for decades at home and are far poorer than the average in their countries.

Sweden is a member of the EU and all EU citizens can come and live here for a few months without a job or a residence permit.

However, they are rarely covered by the Swedish social security system and some just do not want to make contact with Swedish authorities.

Some are now volunteering to start shelters for those begging on Swedish streets. One place, in southern Sweden's Kronoberg region, has no shortage of help.

Organiser Fredrik Schirén says they have got a list with about 90 people who want to help out

This is an initiative from several local churches, who offer a place for 14 people to take shelter from the freezing Swedish winter.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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