Big increase in beggars sleeping rough in Stockholm
The number of beggars from EU countries sleeping rough on the streets of Stockholm has exploded and more are on the way despite the winter cold.
According to Stockholm City's EU social services investigative team there are around 1500 - 2000 poor homeless EU Citizens in Stockholm. Most are Roma from Romania.
Jorge Castellon from the investigative team says he does his best to help the homeless beggars sleeping on the streets, but it is getting more difficult with the sheer numbers who continue to arrive in the capital.
"There's people sleeping on the pavements quite openly. Some streets around the main central station, or under bridges, it looks almost like a warzone and we are quite unfamiliar with it in Stockholm, it's something new," he tells Radio Sweden.
Jorge Castellon and his team estimate that at least 1,500-2000 poor EU citizens, mostly Roma from Romania, are sleeping outside in winter just in stockholm. That's at least double the figure from two years ago when he started working with the council's department.
One of the homeless beggars is 52-year-old Elena. She has been in Sweden for three months and has been sleeping in a park with ten others. She says she sits outside a supermarket begging during the day and makes about SEK 40, not enough to send to her grandchildren or pay off a debt back home.
Jorge Castellon knows around 55 spots in the capital where the homeless migrants bed down for the night, varying from makeshift shelters in the forest to sleeping bags in a park or under a bridge. And they are not just vulnerable to the cold,but also to harassment and violence.
" We are very concerned about those who sleep on the streets in town. There are many bars, there are many drunk people. They face a lot of insults and sometimes physical abuse. People are jumping on them and spit on them and do other things," Jorge Castellon says.