Tehran’s New Challenge: Beggars on Visit Visas

Tehran’s New Challenge: Beggars on Visit VisasTehran’s New Challenge: Beggars on Visit Visas

The Tehran Municipality faces a new challenge; removing beggars from the streets of the capital.

A scheme on the TM agenda to round up beggars in multiple phases was launched midsummer. The TM managed to systematically round up 700 people seeking alms in various districts in the first phase of the plan that took place August 6-8.

Those detained included professionals, gang members, homeless men and women, drug addicts and foreigners. But much to the surprise of the TM staff, the crackdown unearthed a new phenomenon: tourist beggars.

“A large number of beggars rounded up came to Iran on visit visas,” Tehran Governor General Hossein Hashemi was quoted by the Iranian Agriculture News Agency IANA as saying.

“Among them there were 80 men and women from Myanmar on visit visas here to make money illegally by posing as beggars. A large group comprised refugees from Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan,” he said.

With the number of beggars, including local, increasing across the metropolis over the past few years partly due to unemployment and the rising economic problems, urban managers have repeatedly come up with schemes to address vagrancy.

The TM has so far identified and rounded up 600 foreign beggars, mostly from Afghanistan and Pakistan, engaging in street begging, according to social deputy at Tehran’s District 17 Municipality Aqil Mansouri.

“The increasing number of beggars on the streets tarnishes the image of the city and the TM is trying to reduce their number and check the ensuing social harm,” he said.

Tourism expert Ardeshir Orouji censured the lack of “consistent and meticulous monitoring” of some sections of the visitors posing as tourists.

“There is no official database on the three tourism indices incoming, outgoing, and local,” he stressed. “All available data is provided through official interviews and we have no idea how many people enter the country at a point in time.”

Meanwhile, a committee has been set up to execute the municipal scheme which comprises members from the State Welfare Organization, Health Ministry, Iran Drug Control Headquarters, Law Enforcement Forces and the judiciary.

The detainees will be sent to the municipal district’s rehabilitation centers for deaddiction and psychological and mental recovery. But whether the facilities to accommodate all of them exist, remains unaddressed by the authorities.