Police intensify inspections to curb begging menace during Ramadan in UAE
Sharjah - Beggars usually stand near traffic signals in industrial areas, especially in the mornings.
Despite intensified inspections, begging activities have been rising in Sharjah, according to authorities. Beggars are seen stopping pedestrians and motorists asking for money, while not adhering to the mandatory Covid-19 measures of wearing masks and gloves.
Sharjah resident Mohamed Amin noticed beggars selling cleaning wipes on various roads posing as street vendors. "Without wearing masks, they approach pedestrians and people in their cars, telling fabricated stories to get some money. I also see pedestrians running away to avoid getting close to them," Amin said. "Beggars are desperate this Ramadan as everyone is committed to staying at home," he added.
Another resident, Mohamed Saud, said these people are using the pandemic to continue their activities with various stories - the death of the breadwinner due to Covid-19 infection, loss of work, to name a few.
Beggars usually stand near traffic signals in industrial areas, especially in the mornings, to take advantage of the cars that stop, said Salim Al Kutabi, another resident. "They approach the drivers for sympathy, selling sterilisers that are mostly counterfeited. They also offer to sell boxes of cleaning wipes containing sterile materials. They knock the car windows with their bare hands, not wearing gloves, to display these products to the motorists."
Sharjah resident Abu Mazin said some take their disability as an advantage to get social sympathy. "I saw a man begging with an amputated hand and another who used crutches for walking. There was also a woman who would ask for money to buy milk for the infant she was holding. These scenes have become frequent in Ramadan."
Shaneela Khan felt the increase in beggars' presence near ATMs, banks, residential building entrances, and in front of supermarkets. "Before the Covid-19 situation, most of these people were seen around mosques and residential neighbourhoods," she said.
"I've seen people with children who said they have lost their breadwinners because of the virus," said Ullah Saleem.
Beggars are exploiting the current global situation by spreading fabricated stories through social media. "They cook up stories like the inability to buy medicine. They beg you to pay the value of a bus ticket to go back to their residence or to pay debts." said a top Sharjah Police official. The police urged the public not to respond to such activities of emails or on social media.
Organised gangs exploit poor people, says police official
A number of beggars who were interrogated by the Sharjah Police said they were bought into the country in November and told to practise begging for six months in order to return home for a wealthy life, said Col. Ibrahim Al Ajill, director of the criminal investigation department at the Sharjah Police. "As they got stuck in the country, they were asked to continue their activities by their gangmasters. The gangs provide beggars with visas, air ticket and even accommodation, in return of 80 per cent of their daily earnings," he said.
"The police have started intensified inspection campaigns after receiving complaints about beggars pestering residents with their sad stories. According to police investigation, most beggars are brought in to the country by Arab and Asian gangs," he added.
The gangs exploit the generosity of people to make easy money by using poor people.
Police efforts to fight begging
Col Al Ajill said the police have launched 'Ramadan Aman' (Safe Ramadan) campaign to combat begging, limiting activities of street vendors and promoters of fireworks. "Patrols are detecting beggar movements, especially in residential areas. "People must report such activities on 901 or 065943210 rather than sympathising with them.
He warned the public against beggars who move door-to-door pestering families for donations.
21 women among 242 beggars held in Dubai
(By Hesham Saleh)
As many as 242 beggars of different nationalities have been nabbed by the Dubai Police since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.
Among those arrested, 143 were men, 21 were women and 78 were hawkers, said the police. "An anti-begging campaign was launched, especially to find beggar hotspots, to combat the negative phenomenon," said Colonel Ali Salem Al Shamsi, director of the anti-infiltrators department at the Dubai Police.
"Strict warnings have been issued to beggars to refrain from exploiting the sentiments of people during Ramadan," he added.
Col Al Shamsi also called on the public to stop helping them with money. "The public must direct those in dire straits through proper channels in order to get support from charitable institutions."
Col Al Shamsi also urged residents to report begging activities by calling 901 or through the Dubai Police app's 'Police Eye' feature.
Anti-Begging laws in the UAE
Article 5 of Federal Law No. 9 of 2018 punishes whoever commits begging activities despite having a living resource by imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months and by a fine of no less than Dh5,000, said legal advisor Adel Shawky. "The same penalty is applied against whoever makes a false injury or pretends to have a permanent impairment or uses any other means of deception and deceit with the intent to influence others to gain their sympathy."
Legal attorney Saud Al Abdouli said: "In the event that one of the beggars is found to have Covid-19 and intentionally portrays behaviour that results in the transmission of the disease through dealing with people in public places, he or she shall be punished with imprisonment for a period of five years and a fine of between Dh50,000 and Dh100,000."