Human traffickers blamed for rise of beggars in Kenya
International human traffickers are responsible for the rise of beggars across major cities and towns in Kenya, according to officials.
A large criminal network of people smugglers is taking advantage of the government’s move to relax immigration laws for African citizens, authorities say. This has resulted in an influx of beggars coming into the country, turning Kenya into one of Africa’s top destinations for beggars.
The rise of beggars in Kenya
Most of the beggars coming into Kenya arrive from Tanzania although people are also being brought in from Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan, Eritrea and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – most of whom are disabled.
Officials say human traffickers are using the beggars to solicit donor funds and then abandoning the victims after they pocket the cash for themselves. Once the people smugglers get their money, the victims are then picked up by another cartel that overlooks their movements and pockets most of the money they’re able to collect.
The beggars are routinely rounded up by crackdowns that aim to clear Kenya’s streets of beggars, but the current legal system is incapable of dealing with them. Which means the beggars are soon on the streets again and authorities are largely powerless to prevent them from operating until the ringleaders of cartels are found.
Authorities say a number of grey areas in current legislation make it too easy for human traffickers to exploit the law. The network mostly operates in Nairobi, Mt Kenya, Central Rift, Western and Coast counties but officials say it is becoming increasingly difficult to handle the expanding ring of human traffickers as the number of beggars coming into the country continues to rise.
Featured image: By Juneakhwale – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53898624