Government through the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Local Government has embarked on a collaborative approach with relevant stakeholders particularly Fiji Police Force, Non-Government Organisations, Faith Based Organisations and Civil Based Organizations and municipalities to intensify efforts to address begging in Fiji.
The Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation permanent secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta says that vulnerable groups particularly the disabled persons and children are used as emotional ransom to lure the public to give money.
“Some existing beggars exploit children into child prostitution, abuse and other crimes. We have also received confirmation that there are some children who actually don’t belong to the beggars and are yet used in begging to get the public sympathy.
“The Ministry will bank on the support of the Police and municipalities to address this issue and this move will complement the social welfare’s reform that empowers the disadvantaged individuals and families into workfare and helps them to break free from the hand out mentality,” he said.
Last year the Ministry entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Fiji Police Force, which led to the formation of a joint task force that addresses issues concerning women and children in Fiji. The joint task force will look at case situations to devise the right solutions wherein the root determinant is rightly addressed.
“The task force will look at cohesive strategies and action plans with relevant stakeholders in curbing the act of begging not only in major cities but other parts of Fiji,” he said. In 2010, the Ministry and Police had carried out a profiling exercise that revealed that these beggars are mobile, they continue to change their location, some of them are generational beggars, while most of them are already assisted through social welfare assistance.
The Ministry says that the real intention behind begging needs to be determined and addressed properly, to eliminate street begging in Fiji.