Mustafa is an example of many other children who did not join school and chose the life of street begging. People like this child only think of making up new and different stories each time to win passers-by’s sympathy.
Mustafa uses his wide imagination all day to invent stories and tell them to the people, once he claims to be an orphan, another time he says he is homeless and sometimes says he suffers from an incurable disease, and none of these are true.
Ahmed does all that in order to earn some money, begging has become a profession he practices in the streets.
“We have been doing this for years. I am not alone, my whole family are street beggars”, said Mustafa to KirkukNow.
“We have been doing this for years. I am not alone, my whole family are street beggars”,
Mustafa is the nickname of a short, slim, dark 15-year-old boy. Mustafa came to Kirkuk from another province tens of kilometers away to beg for money in the streets.
He holds a small mop and a cleaning liquid in his hands to avoid being questioned by the security forces and beg from vehicle passengers while cleaning up cars’ windows.
Mustafa and other panhandlers fear arrest by security forces which launch anti-street begging campaigns in Kirkuk from time to time.
The most recent campaign was launched on March 28th 2021, in which security forces arrested 17 people accused for street begging.
A security source in Kirkuk told KirkukNow “These 17 people were arrested in Atlas Street, The Third Bridge area, and near the Kirkuk Court, two of them were girls under the age of 18 who were from Syria.”
The source who asked to remain anonymous added that such campaigns are launched every while, noting that 92 alleged street beggars were arrested in July 2020, however they were released on bail.
People who are arrested on charges of street begging are being referred to the courts after taking their statements by the police’s anti-human trafficking department and are dealt with in accordance with the Iraqi penal law, many of them would be released after 24 hours on bail.
The articles 390, 391 and 392 deal with the begging issue and includes financial penalties and imprisonment for a period ranges from one month to six months, according to the case.
Mustafa realizes what would he face if he was arrested by the security forces, therefore, he makes sure not to stay at one place or one city for a long time, “sometimes, I stay here for a month, during this period we only go to the hotel for sleep.”
A beggar rarely tells how much money he earns a day from street-begging, but Mustafa claimed that he makes 100 thousand Iraqi dinars (approximately US$ 69).
According to KirkukNow follow-ups, most beggars exploit infants, women and people with special needs to win people’s sympathy.
The majority of beggars in the streets of Kirkuk are aged between 10 to 40 years, some of the women beggars had married in a very young age and now have three or four children.
“I am jobless, I have two kids, one of them has cancer, we are in constant need of medicines, we live in appalling conditions, therefore I beg in the streets”, according to Ali.
Ali, is the nickname of a refugee in who lives under a tent in Kirkuk, he says “Poverty compelled me to become a beggar, but there are some people who come here from other provinces use street-begging as a career to collect a fortune.”
“Poverty compelled me to become a beggar, but there are some people who come here from other provinces use street-begging as a career to collect a fortune.”
Poverty percentage in Iraq has risen to 31%, meaning that 11 million Iraqis live under poverty line, according to statistics published by the Iraqi ministry of planning in 2021.
KirkukNow has tried to obtain statements from officials of Kirkuk’s office of Iraq’s independent high commission for human rights, in regard to the street-beggingissue, however no one was available for comments.
Fatin Hameed, a lawyer at Kirkuk Court says many street begging-related casees are referred to the court on a weekly basis, some of them include theft and other crimes. She mentioned a particular case to prove her point.
“It was a theft crime, the suspects were two children aged 9 and 10 who were beggars too. When the judge asked the children to call their father, they claimed he had died, but later they admitted that their father lives in another province.”
It was a theft crime, the suspects were two children aged 9 and 10 who were beggars too
Fatin managed to get the father’s number and contacted him, “In the beginning, he denied being the father of the children, but later confessed and came to Kirkuk to take the children driving a 2016 Toyota Prado, the children were released on bail.”
According to KirkukNow follow-ups, most of the street-beggars don not work as groups, and that many of them pretend to be selling tissues or chewing gum or cleaning car windows to cover their street-begging business.
“No one is supervising us, every one works on his own even if members of the same family… street-beggars hail from different parts of the country, among them IDPs and refugees as well”, said Mustafa.