JEDDAH – There are nearly 38,000 children on the Kingdom’s streets, according to a recent study published in the Security Research Journal.
Some 68 percent of these children are foreign vendors and beggars. Most of these were found to have entered the Kingdom on Umrah or Haj visa but never left Makkah.
The study found that the families of these children could not afford their education, compelling them to drop out of school and have a second home in the street.
The study found that living on the street would lead them to child labor, beggary, crime, and drug addiction.
The Ministry of Social Affairs, however, mintained that the ‘street’ children were usually illegal residents living in run-down areas in the Kingdom.
However, the fresh study conducted by Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yusuf, professor of Sociology at Imam Muhammed Bin Saud University in Riyadh, shows otherwise.
Awad Radadi, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said the phrase “street children” was inaccurate because there should be a differentiation between beggars and homeless children.
Child beggars have shelter but their families send them to the street to beg, Raddadi said.
The term “homeless” applies to children without shelter – sleeping in the open, under bridges and on streets, he added. There are no such childdren in the Kingdom, he claimed.
He said those who differ with him over this must provide evidence to support their argument.
Ihsan Tayeb, former director of Social Affairs in Makkah, said the term “homeless” applies to all those who roam streets aimlessly. Such youths fall prey to gangs and traffic accidents. – Okaz