Last October, a note entitled “Evolution of social inequalities in a context marked by the effects of covid-19 and rising pricesof the High Commission for Planning (HCP) estimated that by 2022, nearly seven years of progress towards the elimination of poverty and vulnerability had been lost and that Morocco had returned to the level of 2014.
The HCP revealed that approximately 3.2 million additional people had fallen into poverty (1.15 million) or vulnerability (2.05 million) under the combined effects of the health crisis linked to covid-19 and the ‘inflation. To the happiness of begging whether voluntary or not, one might dare.
In Morocco, this lucrative “profession” belongs to the domain of heavy informal “industry”. Hence this thought towards a great lady of the political and social landscape of the country Nouzha Skalli, who then Minister of Social Development, Family and Solidarity had estimated the annual “turnover” of begging at 27 billion dirhams and even considered taxing it.
That said, and faced with this growing scourge, citizens have recently launched a campaign on social networks against begging in Moroccan streets. They call for directing charity to those who deserve it rather than to those who practice begging. Several citizens have estimated, in publications on Facebook, that “the authorities were shirking their responsibility in the fight against this phenomenon“.
Moroccan penal law criminalizes begging and even punishes with “imprisonment of one to six months anyone who has the means of subsistence or has been able to obtain work”. It is also said that any beggar, even handicapped or indigent, using threats or pretending to be sick, or accompanied by one or more young children or under the age of 13 other than his offspring.
Mohamed El Nouhaili, a civil and human rights activist, told MoroccoLatestNews that “begging is a worrying phenomenon and is like an epidemic, contagious”. Begging in the streets contributes to “illegal enrichment, because these people are not in a state of need, but rather exercise a profession which is an offense punishable by law“. The human rights activist and campaigner called on the authorities to “fTo respect the law, and not to tolerate these people is a bad image for our country and for the indicators of our development“.
El Nouhaili further indicated noting that “some of them earn more than 500 dirhams a day, which is an amount that even the highest employees do not receive”.
Furthermore, he criticized calls for the mobilization of social welfare units and the gathering of these beggars in social centers, stating: “They don’t need these centers. The case is linked to professional beggars and while carrying out inspection tasks, it is discovered that they have huge sums of money estimated at millions.
The activist pointed out that a number of these beggars use “a set of forms of fraud, as they pretend to have a specific disability or handicap, or ask to buy a specific medicine, which challenges the social protection system”, also pointing out that some of the beggars “call themselves widows, while there is a fund to support widows”, and other cases of begging.
El Nouhaili also denounced “child exploitation and human trafficking”, calling for “monitoring and social protection for these children”, stating that “a number of beggars become aggressive when refusing to give alms and tend to harass citizens. Surely he will continue, ‘poverty exists, and those in need exist. There are also many forms of charity which do not require the automatic granting of dirhams and which can be granted to specific families and people experiencing difficulties in their daily life or to institutions such as retirement homes..
El Nouhaili underlined that begging thus, ‘develops misery, fragility and diminishes the value of work. Some prefer to earn money this way. According to data previously revealed by the Ministry of the Interior, interventions in the field to combat the phenomenon of begging during the year 2021 resulted in the registration of a total of 28,597 cases, at the as a result of which 32,669 people were arrested, including 2,975 foreigners. Between January 1 and August 15, 2022, a total of 2,425 cases were recorded and 28,769 people were arrested, including 2,408 foreigners.
To combat this phenomenon, the security services, according to the Ministry of the Interior, in coordination with the local authorities, are implementing all material and human resources, using surveillance systems with cameras installed on public roads. , in order to directly monitor and intervene immediately to arrest those involved or prevent them from continuing this activity or presence in certain places known to spread this phenomenon.