Norwegians giving less to beggars

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Beggars in Norway claim they haven’t been getting as much in their cups lately as they did last year. That’s leading to more aggressive tactics by some, while others are giving up and going home, many back to Romania.

These beggars just outside the Parliament in Oslo face new restrictions approved by Norwegian politicians inside the Parliament. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Begging in Oslo isn’t as lucrative as it was last year. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

A beggar named Claudia from Romania told Oslo newspaper Aftenposten last week that she only had NOK 17 (USD 2.80) in her cup after half a day of sitting on the sidewalk. She traveled back to Romania and is unlikely to return.

Humanitarian organizations also say that Oslo residents are giving much less to beggars this year. Hilde Kirkebøen of the church aid group Kirkens Bymisjon told Aftenposten that daily income is now around NOK 50-70, compared to NOK 200 last summer. Knut Haugsvær of the Salvation Army said he believes beggars collect from just NOK 3 to 60 per day.

Since the number of beggars in Oslo this summer has declined to an estimated 300 this year compared to 600 last summer, “that means that donor habits have changed,” Haugsvær said. “Folks simply are giving less money to beggars.”

Beggars have also moved farther beyond Oslo this summer, and reports have come from outside the capital of more aggressive tactics. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Monday that both police and Norway’s retirees’ association (Pensjonistforbundet) are warning against foreign sellers and beggars who zero in on elderly targets.

“They can come to the door at folks’ homes and almost force their way in,” Knut Tverå of the Helgeland Police District in north-central Norway told NRK. “They’re persistent and sometimes aggressive.”

He added that the beggars are “clever to go after elderly people,” and can be waiting outside shops to stick a rose in their hands, and then demand money. “They can do that even when their targets throw the rose away,” Tverå said.

Some follow their targets to their cars and hold the door open so that the drivers can’t drive away. Such tactics have escalated this summer, he said.

Police in Sør-Trondelag said they’ve followed the movements of foreign beggars or sellers from Østfold in southeast Norway, over to Vestfold and then north. Borge Rørvik of the retirees’ association said the group has received reports from members and others of the sellers preying on the elderly. Those living alone can be especially vulnerable, he said.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund