SHARE
COPY LINK

BULGARIA

Stranded berry pickers gather in Stockholm

Stranded berry pickers are still pouring into the Bulgarian embassy in Stockholm, as another hundred seeking assistance arrived on Friday.

Stranded berry pickers gather in Stockholm

At least 70 more pickers are still left in the affected municipalities, and are asking for help to get home.

The migrants have been living in makeshift camps in the forests of central Sweden, amid simmering tensions with local residents, after being lured there by suspected human-traffickers with promises of seasonal work.

Bulgaria recently promised to foot the bill to get the migrant workers home by bus, and since then berry pickers have been trying to make their way to the embassy in Stockholm.

“We have a deal with Stockholm, and as soon as we get the go-ahead we’ll be sending the berry pickers, who want to go home, to Stockholm,” Yvette Andersson, head of Tierp municipality, said to the TT news agency.

Tierp received that green flag on Friday morning, and 34 berry pickers were subsequently bussed down to the Bulgarian embassy. During the afternoon, however, another 70 pickers have showed up.

“How they’ve landed here and where they came from I couldn’t quite say. They’ve come on foot, by train or bus, and have been dropped off by the embassy,” said Brita Mohlin, deputy head of security in Stockholm municipality, to TT.

The Bulgarian berry pickers are now temporarily being housed in the school Gärdesskolan. Busses to drive them home are on their way from Bulgaria, and are expected to arrive sometime this weekend.

“We suspect that even more people in need of aid will show up soon, and so we’ve got another housing arrangement prepared to open if necessary,” said Mohlin.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

BULGARIA

Sweden jails Bulgarians for begging ring

Two Bulgarian brothers were jailed in Sweden Friday for "human trafficking" after exploiting poverty-stricken and disabled people in a begging scheme.

Sweden jails Bulgarians for begging ring
Beggars from Romania and Bulgaria have become a common sight on Sweden's streets. Photo:
The two men, aged 39 and 42, “recruited, housed and exploited” five people who were drawn into a life of begging on the streets of Gothenburg in southern Sweden.
   
The brothers received three-year and three-and-a-half-year prison sentences.
   
Their victims included a 69-year-old pensioner, an illiterate 21-year-old in a wheelchair, and a blind 62-year-old. All were lured into the deal by the promise of work in Sweden, but they did not touch the money they made from the
long days of begging.
   
The Swedish court estimates that the scheme brought the brothers more than 30,000 euros ($34,000) in five months — between June and October 2015.
   
Two others, a 31-year-old Macedonian who offered his apartment to house the victims, and a 32-year-old Bulgarian woman who helped with logistics of the setup, received lighter sentences of eight and six months in prison.
   
The Swedish government estimates that some 4,700 people, primarily from Romania and Bulgaria, have come to beg in Sweden under the EU's freedom of movement rules, with the numbers increasing sharply in the last five years.