Recent data has shown that street beggars in Tehran make between $100 to $2,000 a day, according to Ali Sadeghi, the deputy director of the Tehran Municipality Welfare and Social Services Organization.
“The [Imam Khomeini] Relief Foundation buys one-way bus tickets out of Tehran for beggars who have migrated to the capital from other regions in the country. That is not a viable solution to the problem,” Mr. Sadeghi noted. “Also, the Ministry of Health and Medical Education never implemented its plan to provide free healthcare to street beggars, including HIV and hepatitis tests.”
Tehran police have rounded up more than 5,000 homeless men, women, and children since March. However, there are still thousands of beggars roaming the streets in various parts of the city. Begging has become a lucrative business for many people, some of whom have relocated to Tehran from smaller towns and rural regions.
The Tehran City Council had plans to house street beggars in homeless shelters. However, the city has opened only two shelters so far, which house mere 400 people. It costs the city more than $400 a day to provide housing, food and medical care to a homeless person. Tehran owes more than $35 million to various hospitals, which is why many clinics refuse treatment to the homeless, beggars and drug addicts.
“Tehran is crawling with organized gangs of professional beggars who earn more than $1,000 a day,” said Salman Khodadadi, a representative to the Majlis (Iranian Parliament) from East Azerbaijan Province. “We have, unfortunately, failed to discourage the public from giving money to these beggars’ mafia.”
Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi