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Bildt: Swedes in foreign disasters to pay their way

TT/The Local · 18 Feb 2010, 10:59

Published: 18 Feb 2010 10:59 GMT+01:00

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A new bill to be brought before the Riksdag, Sweden's parliament, will outline the situations in which Swedes abroad can expect state help and those in which they will be left to their own devices.

According to the bill, the state will only help out during major catastrophes affecting large numbers of Swedes, in countries where the local authorities are unable to cope.

"The bill presents a strong call for the state to help out when really necessary, but a strong call for individuals to take responsibility for themselves and purchase insurance," Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told news agency TT.

Bildt said that the state may demand reimbursement for the cost of travel and healthcare provided to tourists by the Swedish diplomatic service in a crisis.

"We're talking about homeward travel and possibly healthcare costs. These are normally costs covered by insurance," Bildt said. He underlined the importance of buying travel insurance when going abroad and being sure of what it covered.

The bill follows disagreement about the state's responsibility for Swedish citizens caught in disasters abroad. The issue was brought into sharp relief by the 2004 Asian tsunami and the 2006 Lebanon war.

Story continues below…

The cost to taxpayers of evacuating Swedish citizens from Lebanon, partly by arranging transport by ship to Cyprus, was 77 million kronor. The state paid the full amount. Helping Swedes struck by the Asian tsunami, most of whom were in Thailand, cost 157 million kronor.

The Foreign Ministry expects future disasters to draw heavily on taxpayers' money, but hopes the new rules will enable the state to recoup a portion of the costs from those who benefit directly from rescue efforts.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:22 February 18, 2010 by Tiddler
I can guarantee that this will not apply to Carl Bildt and the rest of the blood sucking vermin on the Euro gravy train.

We, the taxpayer, will be picking up the tab for their first class gold plated trravel and care.
11:44 February 18, 2010 by Audrian
He looks his job like a business man looks at his job, which is downsizing and cutting costs regardless of implications on others. He does not know that one of the major roles of the state in any country is to protect its citizens during the time of difficulties, e.g., wars and calamities. In trying to burry the social democratic system to the ground, this man is trying to destroy the additive that gives the people of this country the semblance of being one nation.
11:58 February 18, 2010 by SouthAfrican_in_Sweden
This is sad news for Swedes. Coming from a country where it is every man woman and child for themselves I though the social support here was one of best things about Sweden. When I need to travel (even back to my home country) I have to spend a lot of money and time to ensure that in the event of any crisis there will be some insurance or a support system. If I were a citizen I would be very upset that my tax money would be used to help my countrymen in need when they are abroad.
12:17 February 18, 2010 by krrodman
My father-in-law was working in Kuwait as a civil engineer at the start of Gulf War I. He was a hostage in Iraq for 2 months. On his release after his illegal captivity during an international conflict, he had to pay his own way home - the Swedish Government provided no assistance.

This entry will get deleted and I will be banned from this blog forever if I write the words that he spoke when he read that the Swedish citizen "terrorist" held in Guantanamo was brought back to Sweden courtesy of the Swedish taxpayer.
12:25 February 18, 2010 by izbz
Disaster can happen anywhere....man f#%k with nature and nature is F##king back big time. Maybe the Swedish government is trying to relocate the funds to help *suspect* terrorist or some who might have wander by accident into the land of Talibans.
12:35 February 18, 2010 by Nemesis
@ krrodman

I can understand your father's words and agree with them.

On the logic that is being presented by the government. No politician should have a flight paid for them no matter the resason for the flight. If no Swede is going to be rescued by the government, the government should not pay the flights of those from Iraq, Afghanistan or any other country for refugee's.

Either pay for the flights for the politicians, those stranded through no fault of there own and refugee's or pay for none of it.

Parity for all is an absolute, in a democratic society.
13:07 February 18, 2010 by Beavis
Insane. I can understand if the Swedish governmet is unwilling to pay air fares if the people can afford it and are able to pay in the situation. But "in which they will be left to their own devices" Myslef and my other half were in Nha Thrang in Vietnam when a deadly tropical typhoon hit. We only knew what was going on from seeing the weather and from information on the news. We saw that the army were starting to evacuate people and emailed the Swedish and Irish embassies for what we should do. The responce from the Swedish was "Vietnam is a 3rd world country, these things happen" Wheras the Irish embassy called our hotel advised us to leave asap, advised us how to get a flight to Ho Chi Minh and helped us leave, they gave us a direct number to call if we were in trouble and said to call back in 24 hours t oconfirm we were ok.

What di that cost? The price of one local call (0.2kr)and 10 minutes of their time.

My advice for anyone stuck in an emergency abroad is call another embassy than the Swedish if you need help.
13:33 February 18, 2010 by albert1974
this is why is good to have several passports. one country or the other will pick you up!
13:36 February 18, 2010 by Celc
"The cost to taxpayers of evacuating Swedish citizens from Lebanon, partly by arranging transport by ship to Cyprus, was 77 million kronor. The state paid the full amount. Helping Swedes struck by the Asian tsunami, most of whom were in Thailand, cost 157 million kronor."

Why would the article point out this when it also said the government would help major catastrophes? It is intellectually dishonest of the author to pick the two (I'm assuming) highest bills related to this implying that the government wouldn't have to pay those. It's a freaking Tsunami, by what measure is that not a major catastrophe? I'm reasonably certain that the Tsunami catastrophe is largest natural disaster a reasonable amount of Swedes abroad has faced in modern history.
13:41 February 18, 2010 by Scepticion
Actually, I'm essentially with the government here. I think there are too many people who go out doing stupid, risky things, and if something goes wrong, expect the government to come and bail them out. If you do that, get your own insurance, don't use my tax money. However, they do say that they will pay, like in the case of the tsunami, which I think is fine.

However, regarding getting information/advice etc. in Sweden, one can't really expect much. They don't know what service is.
14:40 February 18, 2010 by krrodman

Let me ask you this:

Life expectancy is increasing around the world because of improvements in health care and public health initiatives.

The planet provides food for billions of people world-wide, something unimaginable 100 years ago.

We carry phones in our pockets that connect us instantaneously with anyone on the planet.

We can have this conversation in real time even though you are in Sweden and I am in the USA.

Is man the primary cause?
15:17 February 18, 2010 by Luckystrike
"The planet provides food for billions of people world-wide, something unimaginable 100 years ago."

@Krrodman, Lets not forget that there are still nearly one billion people living without sufficient water or food in the world, because of "Man".
15:35 February 18, 2010 by Kronaboy
The only problem I see with this policy is have you tried buying holiday insurance in Sweden, its none existent; otherwise as a uk ex-pat I am accustomed purchasing my own cover.
15:44 February 18, 2010 by peropaco
Fortunately or unfortunately the karma police have its way of dealing with these decisions. Maybe many of you do not remember Bo Holmberg's initiative to let the mental patients out in the streets in order to save a few bucks; and unfortunately his wife was killed by a deranged person.
15:53 February 18, 2010 by miss79
oh my my..
16:10 February 18, 2010 by Sjayna
People traveling for enjoyment have to take responsibility for themselves.... I put my tax money rather on them, who really needs help...so get a insurance...
16:40 February 18, 2010 by krrodman

I am confused. How is it the responsibility of "Man" that a billion people do not have enough food?

Or, put differently, I do not share your utopian vision that if "mankind were only good" there would be no evil, poverty, hunger, global warming etc etc etc.

I do not believe that mankind is responsible for all things bad in this world.

I am not overcome by liberal guilt.

In fact, I wrote my earlier blog to highlight the fact that mankind has progressed remarkably. NOT perfectly by any stretch of the imagination, but quite remarkably.
18:02 February 18, 2010 by CarlBlack
@Throwbridge: earthquakes, cyclones, hurricanes, wars, floods, droughts, landslides, etc. ... were here all the time (ok, wars only since ancient humans started to make battles big enough to be called a war).

The only difference is that 50 years ago you did not see them in TV news, because there were basically no TV crews in remote areas and before that there was no TV at all, it is just a matter of information availability. Another reason is that number of people is growing, so that they expand and they are more likely to be found at dangerous places and affected by these catastrophes. To all people who claim increasing number of catastrophes: do you have any long-term statistics to prove it?
18:40 February 18, 2010 by Freja
Kronaboy, funny you say that. I have always had travel insurances when I've lived in Sweden. And my parents were always very particular with it when I was a kid. And anyone I've gone travelling with also had it. Often it is part of your home insurance, but could just as well get separate also.

Google "reseförsäkring" and you'll get what you need. All major, and many minor/niche, insurance companies can help you with this.

Perhaps it has been a language issue for you.
19:16 February 18, 2010 by svenskdod
In a known hotspot like Lebanon, or basically anywhere in the Middle East, you are entering at your own risk. With the case of the Tsunami, have some bloody compassion Bildt!!!! As one comment says here, someone held hostage while working in Kuwait and the Gitmo Swede gets a free ride back here, that is just gross negligence and there should be some court that one can go to. Is there something here that the government has to answer to? There is no excuse for that. Did they get a free ride home from Pakistan also?

At the end of the proposal it should read, "forget the innocent, and protect the criminals, it's cheeper...!"
19:34 February 18, 2010 by Sjayna
CarlBlack, maybe its true, that population growth, people moving/living in 'risk zones' and improvements in information access have influenced the number of reported catastrophes. But the the number of weather-related disasters, storms, floods, droughts, heat-waves etc are still rising. Google some statistics...
00:00 February 19, 2010 by Beavis
The number of natural disasters is on par with whats its always been. Volcanos erupting, earthquakes etc, etc have never been casueed by man, man does not have this power (thankfully)

Sjayna:"People traveling for enjoyment have to take responsibility for themselves.... I put my tax money rather on them, who really needs help...so get a insurance... "

Laughing.. so lets say you are on holiday in say Finland, or your there for work (it doesnt matter) and lets say there is an earthquake in Kemi, your trapped in your hotel, no one seems to speak any Swedish or English only Finnish, no one is helping you get out, your family at home are watching worried on tv,to who do you call?? The Swedish embassy, as its a disaster, but then you get the answering machine "Were sorry there is not enough Swedes in Kemi for us to help you, please contact your insurance company"
01:50 February 19, 2010 by Sjayna
Beavis...Laughing..Please, read the article again...The state will continue to help out during MAJOR catastrophes affecting LARGE numbers of Swedes...I agree with Bildt, individuals should take RESPONSIBILITY for THEMSELVES and purchase INSURANCE, which covers costs for travel and healthcare. Whats wrong with that?! Or dont you think its good to try save some tax money..

So lets say I am in Finland and there are is an earthquake, What shall I do?! I try to survive, I don't sitt and wait that Father Sweden comes and rescue me...Who do you think millions of inhabitants in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India etc could call 2004?
05:18 February 19, 2010 by Prat
It seems reasonable to me that people must bear self-responsibility when going to danger spots. Make your way back on your own - fine. But getting evacuated by the Swedish bureaucracy mafia on a no-bid airplane or ship, then being billed later for your percentage ain't right.
11:31 February 19, 2010 by pjtaipale
"For starters, they could demand that the USA eliminates its space weapons, starting with its laser radar satellites which have caused the worse recent earthquakes."

Hilarious! Thank you.
13:03 February 19, 2010 by Beavis
Some FACTS Trow..


Youll find that a hell of a lot worse natural disasters BEFORE 1995
22:38 February 19, 2010 by CarlBlack
@Trowbridge: Yes, when I was playing Command&Conquer, the GDI was using so called ION cannon targeting enemy structures from the orbit. Now I know precisely what you refer to. Similar one was used also in Star wars and Starcraft :-)
14:33 February 20, 2010 by DamnImmigrant
I have no problem with people buying travel insurance. I think it is part of personal/societal responsibility.

My only problem with insurance comes from my experiences in the US. You THINK you have coverage but then, the small print, the exclusions, the sham companies that suddenly do not have the capital or go bankrupt!

In this case, I think it would be better if the government actually held the policies and did the payouts to those in need. That way the government helps you based on your purchase of the insurance and if the insurance company refuses to pay for some reason, they have to justify their actions to the government (which has no sense of humor) verses the little guy needing to go after the insurance company.

Just a FYI, I have travel medical insurance automatically provided through my Swedish credit card.
15:26 February 20, 2010 by here for the summer
Normally i speakout about things that cost Sweden tax payers money . But here it seems that the state should help it's citizens in emergencies.

Want to save money quit flying terrorists around . Like the "pakistani Swede" who cost a few million sek in just direct costs.
17:30 February 23, 2010 by sissygirl
Why is the government complaining about the cost of bringing homes its citizens from a disaster? One of the roles of the government is to protect the citizens. Even if it's only a few trapped in a far away place.
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