A 45 year old Swedish man begs to survive and sleeps on the sidewalk of Soi Nana (Sukhumvit Soi 4), just 3 months ago he is said to have arrived in Thailand with his life savings of more than a million THB. The story of the homeless Swede has passed through several social media and news sites the last couple of days.
Pharmacist, Pemika Jiawong, works close to Soi Nana. She tries to help the homeless Swede by visiting him on her way home from work. Pemika retold the story of the homeless Swede to Bangkok Post; he arrived in Thailand in May with his life savings, hoping to settle down with an unidentified Thai woman whom he had met late last year. But the woman swindled him out of his money, leaving him with only his passport and a few belongings.
According to Ms Pemika the Swedish man wants to return to his home country and has contacted the Swedish Embassy to get help on several occasions. At the 13th of August Sittipol Chuprajon who runs The Mirror Foundation’s project “Patients on Streets”, met the Swede. Mr. Sittipol told Bangkok Post that back then the man did not want to go back to Sweden because he had no relatives there and was afraid to be blacklisted and banned from reentering Thailand.
ScandAsia contacted the Swedish Embassy. Senior consular officer Par Kageby, confirmed that the embassy knows of the case, but he made it clear that he is not allowed to comment on a specific case. He did however tell that every year there is 50-60 cases were the Swedish Embassy needs to help citizens getting back home. According to Par Kageby, it differs how long it takes to help a citizen home, but eventually the success rate is 100%. He makes it clear that the embassy can only help when a citizen cooperates and wants to return to Sweden.
Depressed and in visa trouble
In Bangkok Post Ms Pemika says that the Swede seems depressed and due to a recent operation needs urinal catheters. She helps by providing the catheters and visits him on a daily basis to “release his depression”.
When it comes to illness, according to Par Kageby, the Swedish Embassy will and can help if the condition of a citizen becomes life threatening. But generally speaking, when a Swedish citizen falls ill in a country outside of the EU, the Swedish state will not pay for their treatment or cover their medical bills.
Mr. Sittipol tells the Bangkok Post, that if the Swedish man is picked up by the police on an expired visa, he would be held in custody for a long time pending deportation.
If a Swedish citizens has overstayed his or her visa, and can’t afford the overstay fee, the embassy are not allowed to use governmental funds to pay for it. According to Par Kageby the normal procedure is for the Swedish Embassy to help raising funds via friends and family.
If the homeless Swede wants to return home but can’t afford the visa overstay he might be in luck. According to Bangkok Post concerned people have called Mirror Foundation and other charity agencies to launch a donation campaign to help him.