Plan to combat problem of mother, child beggars

15th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

15 March 2006, BRUSSELS — Federal Social Integration Minister Christian Dupont has announced plans to combat the problem of mothers and children begging on Belgian city streets.

15 March 2006

BRUSSELS — Federal Social Integration Minister Christian Dupont has announced plans to combat the problem of mothers and children begging on Belgian city streets.

The announcement was welcomed by Socialist SP.A MP Dalila Douifi, who has raised concerns about the issue.

Distressing scenes of mothers seen begging with babies in their arms — particularly during the past few days of freezing cold — have sparked renewed concerns.

Research indicates that these babies face enormous health risks and they are often given too much cough syrup. International law bans exposing children to extreme circumstances, such as cold weather.

After raising the matter with Interior Minister Patrick Dewael and Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx, Douifi has since shared her concerns with Minister Dupont.

Dupont subsequently announced on Tuesday that he will deploy 12 intercultural mediators to approach the beggars.

"The intercultural aspect is not unimportant. For example, the Roma do not always want to be helped. That is part of their culture," Douifi said.

The mediators will be deployed in Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent, Liège and Charleroi.

Douifi also said there have been positive developments in Antwerp, where city authorities demand that school age children actually attend school. When the children start attending school, their parents are then granted social security.

"The problem is very complex: often it is a combination of repressive, preventative and remedial approach that is necessary. The measures from Minister Dupont are the start of a solution," Douifi said.

The Socialist SP.A minister also stressed that using children for the purposes of begging is a criminally prosecutable offence.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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