Houthi takeover of Sanaa forces many to turn to begging during Ramadan

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The number of beggars across the Yemeni city of Sanaa, which is under the control of Houthi militias, has increased particularly during the holy month of Ramadan.

Their number once amounted to hundreds and they were present in certain places like near mosques and at traffic lights. However, there are now thousands of them and they’re almost everywhere you go, from malls to supermarkets, restaurants and hospitals.

During the past few years, most of these beggars were from marginalized categories. Recently though, a big number of them does not seem to belong to this segment. Many of them claim they beg because they’ve fled from Hajjah or Taiz or another area whose residents were displaced as a result of the war which the Houthis caused.

Others, however, say they are governmental employees who have to beg as the rebels’ authority has stopped paying their wages for eight months now.

Social researcher Mohammed Sultan told Al-Arabiya.net that the war which Houthi militias ignited in several provinces also led many to beg for food.

“New categories of beggars emerged as many took to the streets to beg for food,” he said.

“The scene of beggars in Sanaa reflects a scary reality as thousands have lost the source of their livelihood due to the war. This warns of famine in the poorest country in the region,” Sultan added.

Dr. Angela Abu Asbaa, the head of the Angela for Development and Humanitarian Response, said begging has become a social phenomenon that spread in all Yemeni cities, particularly in Sanaa.

She said that the scene of women carrying their children around and begging in the streets has become common.

The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood in Sanaa and UNICEF had estimated the number of child beggars in Sanaa at 7,000.