In Finland’s capital, they’re on almost every corner and thoroughfare.
Sweden: A Beggar on Every Corner
by Ingrid Carlqvist • April 9, 2016 at 5:00 am
For the last few years, Sweden has been overwhelmed with Roma beggars from Romania and Bulgaria. Recently, the government estimated that there are now around 4,000 in Sweden (population 9.5 million).
- “We do not fool anyone. We just benefit from the opportunity.” — Bulgarian beggar in Sweden who said he “owned” five street corners.
- “If the begging is profitable, they stay miserable…. [Giving money] improves the acute situation. At the same time, it contributes to making the bigger issue permanent — the misery…. It will not help the Roma, but it gives you a chance to feel like a good person. … The basic concept of racism is precisely that we as westerners and Swedes are far superior (smarter) and that the Roma are inferior (dumber). If this… is not racist then I do not know what is. … One could add that the image is inverted among Roma. They consider themselves superior and smart, while the gadjo (non-gypsies) are stupid, naïve and gullible.” — Karl-Olov Arnstberg, Swedish ethnologist
“It is our very strong recommendation not to give money to beggars. It turns the panhandling into an occupation… To give [money] encourages a life with no future; moving from country to country does not solve their problems.” — Florin Ivanovici, director of the Life and Light Foundation, Bucharest, Romania.
Nobody knows exactly how many of them there are, but for the last few years Sweden has been overwhelmed with Roma beggars from Romania and Bulgaria. In 2014, the newspaper Sydsvenskan reported that an estimated 600 Roma beggars lived in the country; a few months ago, the government-appointed “National Coordinator for Vulnerable EU Citizens,” Martin Valfridsson, found that there are now around 4,000.
You see beggars sitting outside virtually every store, not just in the big cities, but also in small rural villages. In the far north of Sweden, at gas stations in the middle of nowhere, patrons are greeted by beggars saying “Hello, hello!” while holding out their paper cups.