83,000 homeless children roam Saudi streets – study

Saudi Arabia

Published: 09/04/2007 12:00 AM (UAE)

83,000 homeless children roam Saudi streets – study

By Mariam Al Hakeem, Correspondent
 

Riyadh: Around 83,000 homeless children are roaming the streets of Saudi Arabia, according to a recently released study.

The children are believed to have been brought from neighbouring countries to work as camel jockeys and later were used for selling low-priced goods, according to Dr Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Yousuf, associate professor of sociology at the Riyadh-based Imam Mohammad Bin Saud Islamic University.

The researcher pointed out, in the study published in Riyadh, that some of others enter the kingdom illegally and most of them can be seen begging near traffic lights.

In 2005, the Yemeni Ministry of Social Affairs acknowledged that around 300 children were crossing the border every month.

Contrary to what is reported in the daily press, the study noted that 69 per cent of street children in Riyadh are Saudis while 56.6 per cent of them are females. Around 88 per cent mothers of begging children are illiterate while nine per cent have only primary education.

Begging with mothers

The results corroborated an earlier survey conducted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

An ILO study reported in 2002 that the majority of child beggars in Saudi Arabia are citizens, many of them girls with disabilities. They often beg accompanied by their mothers.

According to the study, 68 per cent of child vendors are non-Saudis aged between six and eight.

The main factor behind the growing phenomenon are economic, social and family ones. Many street children said their families couldn’t afford their education costs.

The study noted that 60 per cent of the children’s fathers are married to another woman, while 50 per cent of fathers are unemployed. Orphanage and domestic violence and abuse are among the factors for the increase of the phenomenon.

Dr Al Yousuf warned that young beggars were at risk of turning to crime if their plight was not addressed.

Young beggars vulnerable to crime

  • Study noted that 69 per cent of street children in Riyadh are Saudis, 56.6 per cent of them are females. Around 88 per cent of the mothers of begging children are illiterate while nine per cent have only finished primary schools.
  • 68 per cent of vendors are non-Saudis aged from six to eight.
  • The study noted that 60 per cent of the children’s fathers are married to another woman, while 50 per cent of fathers are unemployed.
  • The researcher warned that young beggars were at risk of turning to crime.

 

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