Oslo’s Labour Party-led government has lost patience with all the migrants from Eastern Europe that beg on Oslo’s streets and set up illegal and unsanitary camps. The city approved 11 measures this week aimed at cracking down on the problems as complaints rise.
“We have had lots of reports of aggressive begging, also on trams and the metro,” said city government leader Raymond Johansen. “Many have also complained about camps set up in forest areas. Last year alone, we cleared away 166 illegal campsites.”
Media have reported recently how pre-school children out on walks in the woods near day care centers have encountered garbage, raw sewage and illegal camps that make their local play areas impossible to use. The city is now earmarking another NOK 10 million for camp cleanup.
While some municipalities around Norway have banned begging, most recently in Sola south of Stavanger, Oslo is first resorting to measures that include an effort to change a current agreement Norway has with the EU that will demand registration of a local residence when migrants arrive in Oslo. Most come from Romania and Bulgaria and can freely travel to Norway, but residence registration may discourage some.
Begging ban still up for debate
The cities of Bergen, Trondheim and Kristiansand already require beggars to register their begging activity with the city, but Oslo officials don’t think that will work in the capital because of the large numbers of beggars.
The city is also asking public tranport lines to boost the presence of guards on board trams, the metro and at stations. Oslo officials also are evaluating funding to increase the numbers of public toilets and lodging options, while also asking for more state police patrols.
“The residents of Oslo must freely be able to enjoy their parks, open space and forest areas,” Johansen told news bureau NTB. “Therefore we have to considerably increase our efforts to remove illegal camps, clean up garbage and wash public areas.”
Johansen said the City of Oslo can’t take responsibility for the poverty in Eastern Europe that sends beggars to Norway and other countries, “but we will do what we can to solve the problems our residents are experiencing. We end up having to clean up.” Opposition politicians from the Conservative Party still want to ban begging in Oslo, with politial debate on the issue due to continue.