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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.

ROMA

Sweden fails to cut number of ‘vulnerable EU migrants’

The number of homeless beggars from Romania and Bulgaria living in Sweden is as high as it was three years ago, according to the new government figures.

Sweden fails to cut number of 'vulnerable EU migrants'
A man begs with a sign asking for work. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT
“There are around 4,500 to 5,000 vulnerable EU citizens currently in Sweden,” Claes Ling-Vannerus, Sweden's national coordinator on the issue, told Swedish state broadcaster SVT.
 
This is the same number estimated in a report  three years ago from Martin Valfridsson, who was appointed by the Swedish government to investigate the issue and what to do about it. 
 
Sweden appointed the national coordinator to work with the governments of Romania and Bulgaria on providing aid to ethnic Roma communities to reduce the attraction of travelling to other European countries to beg. 
 
Municipalities across Sweden and volunteer organisation have offered shelter and food to those in need. 
 
Others have taken a tougher approach, with police this year starting to enforce a begging ban in Vellinge, near Malmö, the first municipality in Sweden to bring in such a ban.
 
 
Ling-Vannerus said that Sweden had recently been seeing growing numbers of poor people from Romania and Bulgaria being put to work “in substandard conditions” as cleaners or builders, or in car garages. 
 
“My conclusion is that it is very attractive to come to Sweden with the life we live here and with free movement of people, it's hard to stop that.” 
 
Sweden appointed the national coordinator to work with the governments of Romania and Bulgaria on providing aid to poor ethnic Roma communities in their countries to reduce the attraction of travelling to other European countries to beg. 
 
Municipalities across Sweden and volunteer organisation have offered shelter and food to the help those who travel to Sweden. 
 
This year police began enforcing a begging ban in Vellinge, near Malmö, the first municipality in Sweden to bring in such a measure. 
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