Beggar profile findings

A profiling exercise conducted on 23 beggars in Suva showed 10 of them were already receiving monthly social welfare assistance.

Called Operation Beggar Beat, the exercise was conducted last month by the Department of Social Welfare and police.

Of the 23, 10 were man and 13 women between the ages of 21 and 57.

Social Welfare Minister Dr Jiko Luveni said information and data collected would help map the way forward to assist them.

“The aim is to devise strategies to help these beggars by elevating their standard of living and ability to earn income through skills training and opening up opportunities for employment and income-generating projects,” she said.

“Proper medical care and shelter will also be provided to those in need.

“The next phase is to study each case carefully to identify the potential of each individual beggar, to talk to their families and find the best means to assist them, to ensure they do not return to the streets.”

She said the ministry was looking forward to the completion of a rehabilitation centre — to help identify individuals including beggars — under construction through the Nazarene Church.

“The ministry, through its Welfare Graduation Program, will look at providing skills training and start-up capital to help them venture into income- generation projects.

“Support is also needed from a wide networking of people and non-governmental organisations to assist in addressing the issue of street begging in Fiji.”

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