26 January 2010
Begging to be Stopped
The recent round-up and deportation of illegal immigrants found begging in Bangkok is complete. For now. Most of the beggars are from Cambodia- 570 Cambodians including 200 children have been sent back to their homeland- with significant numbers also coming from Laos, Burma and Vietnam.
Many Cambodians are smuggled over the common Thai-Cambodian border, while others cross-over on short-term tourism visas with no intention of returning. Once they are on Thai turf they are recruited by gangs who put them to work in the Eastern provinces for a few months before moving them on to surburban Bangkok and finally the lucrative centre of Bangkok.
Investigations by the Vietnamese police show just how lucrative begging can be for some after the recent arrest of two people-smugglers; the Vietnamese couple who were illegally begging in Bangkok in 2006 were so taken with the money on offer that they returned home and arranged the smuggling in of ten disabled Vietnamese.
Thai immigration believe that the only way the smuggling and exploitation of the disabled and children for begging can be stopped is if people stop giving to pan-handlers. They are probably right.