Minister asks Swedes not to give cash to beggars

TT/The Local
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Minister asks Swedes not to give cash to beggars
A beggar in central Stockholm. Photo: TT

Sweden's equality minister said on Friday that Swedes should donate money to charities rather than giving it directly to street beggars, a move she claimed would help give EU migrants the choice to stay in their home countries.


If you want to help EU beggars on the streets of Sweden, then don't give them money.  This is the message of Equality Minister Åsa Regnér, who took to the debate pages of the Dagens Nyheter newspaper on Friday to urge Swedes to reconsider their methods of generosity. 
The minister, together with Martin Valfridsson, Sweden's debut national coordinator for vulnerable EU citizens, urged Swedes to donate money to help organizations in Romania and Bulgaria instead. 
"I don't think it's a good situation to have beggars sitting outside supermarkets and asking for money," she said, calling the situation "unsustainable". 
She said that while people could "decide for themselves" how to donate their money, it was important that Swedes knew about the relief organizations in Romania and Bulgaria.
"I believe that sending money to these organizations is a better long-term solution," she said.
Fewer beggars in capital despite national rise
A beggar in Stockholm. Photo: TT
Such a solution, she added, would mean that beggars could choose whether they wanted to stay in their home countries rather than feel the need to come to Sweden to beg. 
But Marika Markovits, head of Swedish charity Sveriges Stadsmission, said that Swedes shouldn't feel the need to stop giving money to beggars. 
"Just because you're throwing a few coins to a beggar doesn't mean you're getting them stuck in a permanent situation," she told the TT news agency.
She acknowledged, however, that sending money to foreign organizations was also a good way to be charitable.
Sweden has experienced a surge in EU migrants - mostly from Romania and Bulgaria - begging on streets around the country, with a study this summer suggesting the number has doubled to 4,000 people over the past year.


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