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STOCKHOLM (AP) — The evacuation of a squalid Roma camp this week has forced Sweden to come to terms with a troubling new reality: For the first time in generations, the egalitarian welfare nation is witnessing people living in abject poverty, without basic amenities such as electricity and running water.
They sleep on sidewalks, wrapped in blankets on cardboard boxes or in makeshift homes made of plywood, metal and sheets of plastic. They eke out a living by panhandling and recycling bottles and cans.
Until recently, Swedes had only seen such misery up close on foreign travels or in black-and-white photos from the 19th century, before the country became a semi-socialist society with a famously small gap between rich and poor.