Swedish government foots evacuees’ bills

The Swedish government on Friday said it was putting up another 50 million kronor to cover all return costs for those who decided to leave Lebanon this week.

The government has now promised a total of 107 million kronor of taxpayers’ money for the evacuation.

“Evacuations are expensive, a great deal goes toward renting all of the airplanes and boats,” said Åsa Arvidsson, spokeswoman with the Foreign Ministry. “It is an air bridge essentially. The staff also cost, from among others the Swedish Rescue Services Agency.”

She was not able to say exactly how much the evacuation has cost up to this point or say if an additional appropriation would be needed.”

Some 5,000 Swedish citizens have left Lebanon and many remain.

Usually, those who are evacuated are responsible for paying for their own costs, with the Foreign Ministry’s costs regarded as more of a loan.

“But in this situation an exception is being made due to the scope of the evacuation,” Jan Janonius, Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “Individuals wouldn’t be able to get themselves home from Cyprus with so many thousands in the same situation. The government will cover all costs apart from those situations where travel agencies have arranged for transport for their customers. The Foreign Ministry cannot demand money from the insurance companies.”

When the evacuees return to Sweden, their individual districts and municipalities will pay for transportation within Sweden.

Individuals could file claims with their insurance companies to try and recoup the cost of hotels or anything of their own money spent.

Maria Larsson, a leader of the Christian Democrats, said a situation like this calls for big appropriations, but an investigation later will show if a 100 million kronor bill was necessary.