Roma Kids from around Bulgaria Forced to Beg in Sofia

Society | June 28, 2010, Monday // 14:41|  views

Roma children of differen age are forced to beg in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. Photo by BGNES

Over 80% of the child beggars in Sofia are Roma kids from around Bulgaria who are forced to beg, announced Minka Vladimirova, head of the Municipal Social Work Directorate.

“Each of these kids makes about BGN 2 000 (EUR 1 000) per month, which then goes to their relatives or other people forcing them to beg,” Vladimirova told Darik Radio while speaking about a Sofia Municipality campaign to remove begging children from the streets and to place them in appropriate social institutions.

Over the past three months, the mobile team of the Sofia Municipality took over 130 begging Roma children off the streets, with the youngest kid begging on its own that they found being 3 years old.

“Most of these children realize that forced begging is unnatural activity for their age. Only a few of them deem it proper and natural. In most cases they don’t want to be on the street but are forced to,” Vladimirova explained.

According to Zlatka Petkova, head of the mobile team of social workers picking up children from the street, the most “lucrative” spots for Roma child beggars are the area around the Sofia University building, the Orlov Most (“Eagle’s Bridge”), and the major boulevards “Vitosha” and “Hristo Botev”.

“We accommodate these children in our crisis center or in orphanages but they fail to integrate there because they don’t want to stay, and escape back to the streets. We warn their parents oftentimes they care very little,” Petkova said.

She also explained many of the children the social workers have picked from the Sofia streets have committed crimes or have worked as prostitutes.

The project of the Sofia Municipality for tackling the problem with the begging Roma children will be continued until their number is reduced as much as possible, the social workers said.

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Tags: Roma children, Roma, beggar, Sofia Municipality, social workers, child beggars, child abuse


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