The Problem of Begging: Macedonia

By • on July 25, 2012

“Please give me 10 denars”. This is one of the most common sentences that children say on streets, crossroads and squares inMacedonia. Many of them beg every day for bread, but it is widely believed that some of them also beg so they could buy psychotropic substances, such as glue or heroin. Some children panhandle on their own will, while others under pressure from their parents or “owners”. 

Four years ago, government centers for social work assisted by police identified a large number of these children and offered them help. The action, called “Cleaning the streets from beggars,” included taking children from the streets and sending them to the transit center located in the Skopje suburb of Avtokomanda, their identification and taking of appropriate actions according to their needs.

Within these activities, which are still being implemented by the institutions, the parents of some of the children sign approvals so that their children can stay in a daily care centers for street children, where they receive food, clothes, proper hygiene, and are involved in activities that provide basic education. Furthermore, the day care centers work on including these children in the regular education process.

Civic organizations say that the state’s approach toward this problem is short-term orientated, because the children who are placed in the transit center or in day care centers, often go back to the streets after 4 p.m.

Enisa Eminovska, a Roma activist who has follwed this issue for several years, says that children from the streets do not stay in day care centers. She claims that these centers are visited by children who are not enrolled in school for whatever reason, while the children beggars are not there.

Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Ibrahim Ibrahimi, says that he is not satisfied with the work of social workers in the centers for social work. His position is that the problem should be solved in the field, not from the office. He announces visits to day care centers in order to determine the way in which social workers operate.

On the other hand, the director of the Inter-municipal Centre for Social Work, Krste Meljanovski, says that they are constantly working in the field, even at night. According to him, social services act in accordance with the law.

However, it is an indisputable fact that instead in classrooms, an estimated 2,000 children spend their days on the street. This is the last statistics of the First Children Embassy in the World – Megjashi.

Besides begging for food, there are children who beg for psychotropic substances, and some of them are addicted to glue and heroin. While the institutions in Macedonia claim that they are doing something to deal with this problem, in May three children who were drug addicts died. We inquired about these cases with government institutions, but no one had any comment.

 

This article originally appeared on Tocak, a news and information portal on and for the Roma communities of the Balkans operated by Transitions and four partner organizations in Bosnia, Serbia and Macedonia.