Report: Houthis plan to ‘raise money in Saudi Arabia through beggars’

The Houthi rebel movement in Yemen is reportedly planning to send a large number of beggars over to the Kingdom

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The Houthi rebel movement in Yemen is planning to send a large number of beggars over to the Kingdom in order to raise money for them, sources told Al-Hayat newspaper.

Houthi followers are planning to enter the Kingdom illegally through the southern borders, close to their stronghold, the sources said.

They intend to spread throughout the country’s regions and cities and begin begging for money on streets.

The sources said the beggars will be carrying fake medical reports and letters claiming they suffer from different disabilities and will squat near mosques and other public places.

Sources noted the movement would make sure that the money collected by beggars will be transferred to Yemen in ways that are difficult to trace.

The Interior Ministry started a few months ago a crackdown campaign on beggars all over the Kingdom.

Security officers arrest any beggar regardless of nationality and take necessary measures, sources said.

Border guards in the south continue to foil attempts by Yemeni undocumented workers who want to enter the country illegally.

Authorities here have listed the Houthi movement as a terrorist group together with Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Nusra Front and Hezbollah.

A recent study by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance has attributed the increasing number of beggars seen on streets to the rising number of undocumented workers who cross the borders illegally.

Another reason for such increase, according to the study, was the large number of hajj and Umrah pilgrims who overstay their visas.

The study said Yemenis constitute the biggest number of beggars followed by Egyptians. Most of them can be found in Jeddah, Makkah and Riyadh.

The team who conducted the study warned against the threats posed by beggars on society, economy and security.

Most beggars caught by authorities are aged 16 to 45 and the majority of them are illiterate men who are either jobless or have families to support.

People who run beggar rings use children and provide beggars with fake medical reports claiming they are mentally challenged or suffer from other disabilities, the study pointed out.

It recommended that authorities fighting this practice should be better supported and there should be more public awareness.

The study suggested that stricter penalties such as hefty fines and imprisonment should be in place to end the practice.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on December 8, 2014.

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