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article imageReport: Swedish beggars homeless on Spanish beaches

By Anne Sewell     Apr 29, 2014 in World
The Swedish street newspaper, Faktum, has identified a previously little known fact, and that is the large number of poor and homeless Swedes currently begging for a living in Spanish resort towns.
While the epitome of a beggar in Gothenburg would be a Romanian or Bulgarian citizen, i.e. someone from one of the poorer EU countries, it seems that the homeless and poor in Sweden head south to try and make a living. The magazine stresses the importance of keeping the EU borders open for just this reason.
In the issue of Faktum which goes on sale on April 29, the article describes how reporters from the magazine have visited cities like, for instance, the resort town of Fuengirola in southern Spain. A popular location for Swedes, particularly in the Los Boliches area of the town, the general consensus is that retired Swedes live in Fuengirola during the cooler months, and head back home for the two hottest summer months. With a good pension and having two homes available, they can then live in the perfect temperatures year-round, an enviable situation to many.
However it turns out it is not always the wealthier or middle-class Swedes that are in evidence in Spanish resorts and Swedish beggars can be found both on the beachfront and outside of supermarkets, cup in hand. Some make a living building sand sculptures on the beach as pictured above.
Aaron Israelson, editor of the newspaper, said, “Our report provides a different angle on a problem that we talk a lot about in Sweden, but do not think affects us.”
“Although poor Swedes do not go out and beg to the same extent as Romanians and Bulgarians, there are nevertheless quite a number out there,” he added.
With the assistance of Swedish church representatives in various locations, the magazine has been able to get an approximation of how many Swedes are actually homeless and living in four popular Spanish tourist resorts.
Stefan Kamensky of the Swedish Church in Tenerife told the newspaper that they have “maybe 20 homeless Swedes on the beach and about a hundred who are socially vulnerable.”
There are similar reports for both Mallorca and Gran Canaria and apparently there are around ten Swedes living in a homeless situation in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol. The magazine then went on to report on about 70 poor Swedes living in what they term Spanish “Swedish towns.”
According to the Swedish church, these homeless people are often suffering from addictions or mental disorders and have escaped Sweden to live in a warmer climate where, Kamensky added, “The sun is shining, the alcohol is cheap and society is relatively liberal drug-wise.”
The article added that once these people are living in Spain, their already precarious situation can actually get much worse, as they cannot expect help from either the Swedish or Spanish authorities if anything goes wrong. However, in emergency situations, the Swedish church can help to an extent by contacting the Foreign Office and social authorities in Sweden in order to raise money for a plane ticket back home to Sweden.
With the report, the newspaper is hoping to contribute a new vision of poor Europeans, including the homeless Swedes, and the effect current economic situations are having on their lives.
There has apparently been much talk of sending the Romanian and Bulgarian poor back home, to which Israelson added:
“We hope that people will think. It is not only Romanians and Bulgarians who set off in search of a better life. What would happen, for instance, if Spain decided to deport the poor northerners?”
“Free movement in the EU is extremely important to everyone, especially those who are destitute," he added.
Faktum is a street newspaper sold by homeless people in Gothenburg, Sweden. Started in 2001, it was awarded the grand prize of the Swedish Publicists’ Association (Publicistklubben) in 2006.
Swedish sources:
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