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Roma beggars reappear on streets

Roma beggars from Romania have been living in subzero temperatures in a disused building in the southern Finnish town of Järvenpää. Welfare officials have visited the premises on two occasions but have failed to find any residents. Other groups of panhandlers are also on the streets in Helsinki and Tampere.

Kerjäläinen Tampereen Keskustorilla.
Kerjäläinen Tampereen Keskustorilla. Image: Antti Eintola / Yle

Several Roma beggars have been seen in the Järvenpää building by locals, but so far no request for help has been received.

”We have tried to contact them and to ascertain if they are in need,” says Virva Juurikkala, a senior social worker from the town of Järvenpää.

Although unregistered citizens from other EU nations must be able to fend for themselves, Juurikkala says help can be provided in acute situations when children and sick people are involved.

Around 100 Roma beggars are currently active in the metropolitan Helsinki region. Others are also on the freezing streets of Tampere, with temperatures dipping below -20 degrees Celsius this week.

Officials have called on the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to provide more precise guidelines on how to deal with street beggars.

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