Ministry arrests 670 beggars in 2016, intensifies inspection campaigns

Muscat - 

The number of beggars held by the anti-begging teams of the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) increased in 2016 (670) as compared to 2015 (612), statistics show. Hamood Mohammed Nasser al Mandhari, Director of Social Development at MoSD said that the ministry has intensified inspection campaigns.

“Our teams conducted 2,338 inspections, of which 1,380 were in Muscat, 120 in North and South Batinah and 50 each in Buraimi and Dhofar.” Of the 670 caught in the sultanate, the maximum arrests were made in Muscat (482), followed by North and South Batinah (120), Buraimi (50) and Dhofar (18). Omani beggars included 185 (126 males) and expatriates 485 (258 males).

Mandhari said beggars try to exploit the faith and sympathy of those fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Beggars approach people not just on streets but also in parking areas and outside mosques. Elaborating on the challenges Mandhari said that people’s sympathy is the biggest hurdle. “We are conducting awareness campaigns through various social media platforms and workshops on the ill-effects.”

He explained that MoSD has announced plans to reduce the practice of begging with welfare programmes and campaigns. The ministry is also working in close coordination with concerned authorities such as the Public Prosecution, ROP, Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Information and Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs. It is also assisting Omani beggars by helping them find jobs and supporting them financially. He said the ministry also hopes to bring down the number by strictly enforcing the rules.

“The law stipulates that anyone found begging in public or private places will face an imprisonment of not less than two months and not exceeding a year. Offenders can also be fined not less than RO50 and not more than RO100. Non-Omanis caught begging will be expelled.

“Repeat offenders will be sentenced for not less than six months and not exceeding two years. Anyone found using children for begging shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than three months and not more than three years. Fine not less than RO50 and not more than RO100 will also be imposed,” added Mandhari.

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