In Kandahar, population of child beggars sees alarming growth
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): The number of child beggars has been on the increase in southern Kandahar province as result of growing unemployment and poverty.
Local officials say no survey has been conducted to determine the exact number of child beggars, but the situation continues to worsen with each passing day.
Minors can be seen on Kandahar roads and streets, asking passengers for money. Mohammad Naeem, 11, recently started begging. He spends the day seeking alms.
Clad in tattered clothes, the barefoot boy told Pajhwok Afghan News: “My father was killed in an explosion. My mother and I recently started begging for survival.”
He said they had never imagined falling on such bad time as long as his father was alive. However, they ran into a host of problems after Naeem’s father passed away.
“I started going to school two years ago, when my father worked as a labourer to feed our family. But my school days were numbered. With my father’s death, all my dreams were shattered,” he added.
He lived for some time with his uncle, but was soon told to fend for himself. “My mother, two sisters and I now live in a ruined house in Kandahar City.
“I beg all day long, making 60 afghanis with which I buy food,” said the boy, whose mother washes clothes and dishes for neighbours. When she has no work, she also goes begging with her son.
“I know begging is not good. Some people abuse us, but we have no other option,” remarked Naeem, who regretted many children like him were robbed of their innocence by poverty.
Niamatullah, 9, is another child, who begs along with his little sister on streets. His father, a drug addict, is a drag on his family: He and his sister have to feed him and other family members.
“Many a night, we don’t go home and sleep in front of shops,” he said.
A resident of Kandahar City, Haji Syed Mohammad, groups of small beggars could be seen in every square of the provincial capital, imploring people for alms.
Begging undermined a child’s personality and harmed his/her future, he said, asking the government to work for addressing the issue of joblessness and preventing skiving.
Provincial Labour and Social Affairs Director Nazar Ali Qate confirmed the number of begging women and children was rising.
He said they could not conduct a survey to ascertain the number of beggars or help them due to a shortage of workers and lack of resources. He linked begging to insecurity and joblessness.
“With the job market shrinking after foreign soldiers’ pullout, people are really in bad shape,” Qate said, adding many families had moved from districts to Kandahar City due to insecurity.
Support from the US-led international community and the Afghan government was central to resolving the serious problem, he believed.
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