Posing as Saudis, foreign beggars back in Asir
With the end of the winter season, the southern Asir region has seen a steady increase in the number of beggars, especially women, on the streets. Most of the beggars are infiltrators from neighboring countries, and some are HIV positive, according to a report in Alsharq daily.
The report said two Saudi youths reportedly contracted HIV from some women beggars after the latter seduced the men into having illicit sexual relations.
One female beggar was seen taking her three children onto a major road to beg. She claimed that she is a Saudi woman from Jazan whose husband is disabled and unable to provide for the family.
The woman disclosed that she managed to collect around SR80 an hour by begging. Later, it was revealed that the woman was a girl who was simply wearing an abaya and niqab to fool people into thinking she was the mother of the three children accompanying her.
There are dozens of female beggars who roam the streets of Abha and other cities of Asir province. Posing as Saudis, they show bogus identification documents to fool people. Some beggars even claim that they belong to famous tribes in the region.
When a committee, constituted by the Asir governorate, arrested a number of beggars and checked their IDs, it became apparent that all were illegal residents who had forged the IDs of Saudis.
Earlier, Prince Faisal Bin Khaled, emir of Asir, directed the police to verify the identity of beggars who claimed that they are Saudis but do not have IDs.
Instructions were issued to the concerned authorities to study their cases and to confirm whether they actually are citizens or not. The emir also ordered that all foreigners found begging using fake IDs be deported.
There was also a directive to monitor public places where beggars are known to gather and find out who arranges their transportation needs. Committees were also formed in various regions for field inspections and these committees are represented by officials of the governorate, police, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and the Anti-Begging Department.
Ali Al-Asmari, spokesman for the Social Affairs Department in Asir, said a total of 1,544 beggars were arrested in the region last year, and they included 1,512 infiltrators. There were only 32 Saudi men and women among those caught.
Foreigners involved in begging were handed over to the concerned authorities to complete the necessary procedures before their deportation.
As for the Saudis, they were transferred to the concerned office so their cases could be addressed on an individual basis. The office carried out studies about their situation and the circumstances that forced them to resort to begging. Subsequent investigations showed that some of the Saudi beggars were beneficiaries of social security schemes while others had a fixed income.
Al-Asmari said the authorities take written pledges from Saudi beggars the first two times they are caught. If they are caught a third time, they are referred to the concerned authorities so penal actions can be taken against them.
He said a total of 341 beggars, including 337 foreigners, were arrested in Asir during the four months of the current Hijri year.
On his part, Abdullah Al-Shaathan, spokesman for Asir police, said the security authorities in Asir, in cooperation with the concerned agencies, caught a total of 627 beggars during the last five months, and they included 55 Saudis. Some of the foreigners were arrested while begging as Saudis.
“The security authorities have been carrying out surprise raids round the clock to arrest male and female beggars to contain this phenomenon,” he said while urging citizens not to pay any alms to beggars.