The disdain toward begging EU migrants in Sweden is growing, while hundreds of Swedes flee Sweden in order to survive as beggars abroad. ”It was not so easy to get them home, even though we offered them tickets. A wintery, cold Stockholm isn’t something a homeless person looks forward to,” says Jan Janson, pastor at the Swedish Church in Toronto, Canada. He refers to the time when he worked in Spain, which is when he first came in contact with homeless Swedes, who are spread out in different vacation spots of the world.
”At the Swedish Church in Los Cristianos we met just that kind,” says Janson. ”They stayed alive by begging from the tourists, they slept underneath a bush on the beaches, and were often victims of thefts, assaults, not to mention accidents with exploding kerosene stoves.” Says Stefan Bergmark, regional director for Svenska Kyrkan i utlandet, the Swedish Church Abroad: ”It is more often warmer countries they end up in. The further away they are, the more difficulties they have in helping themselves. Many of them also suffer some drug addiction.”
According to the Swedish Church, the number of these homeless people is increasing, although an exact figure does not exist. ”There’s quite a lot of psychologically ill Swedish citizens who travel around Europe as a way to escape Swedish mental health care,” says Larsa Rännar at the Swedish Church in Brussels. ”On and off, these people live on the streets. Because their passports are rarely checked at border controls, they fly under the radar of embassies and consulates.” Utrikesdepartementet (the Foreign Ministry) confirms the information that more and more psychologically ill Swedes are abroad. Patric Nilsson is First Secretary working to assist distressed Swedes abroad. According to him, all the financial help from the Foreign Ministry goes to helping the person to get back to Sweden. ”If in spite of that you choose to stay, there’s not much financial help you can get,” Nilsson says. The Foreign Ministry assesses each case individually, however.