500 Yemeni children smuggled into Saudi a month for begging


Only about 40,000 were apprehended, reports say.

At the border area, the sheer number of children being smuggled into the kingdom – often in broad daylight – gives credence to these reports. An international report said 9,765 children, 96 per cent of whom were boys, had been smuggled through the Haradh crossing point in 2004.

Only one of children’s centres along the border received some 800 teenagers and deported back to Yemen last year.

The children are mostly employed as beggars. Organised rings handle the bulk of the smuggling business. Some of them pay the families of the children as much as $ 3,000-$ 5,000 as an annual "rent" for the child.

Trafficking of a child from Yemen to the border region of Jizan costs about SR300, while transportation to Jeddah costs more than SR1,000.

Children with all sorts of disabilities are a commodity, and the reasons are obvious: do-gooders tend to be more generous to them – and thus they are potentially more lucrative.

Being talkative and charismatic adds to a child’s "street value," sources said.
But not all children are brought in to beg.

The reports say a fifth of them are used as workers in farms or to herd sheep, and some for outright crime, mostly thefts.

Officials and experts say the phenomenon is attributed to the rampant poverty in many parts of Yemen. Yemen and Unicef launched major initiatives such as tightened security on the border, awareness campaigns and training for officers in 1004, they have yet to bear fruit.


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