Nairobi. At least 78 beggars allegedly from Tanzania have been arrested in Nairobi in an operation targeting a secret trafficking ring, reports The Star.
The Ring brings disabled people from Tanzania and forces them into a life of modern slavery, begging on the streets of Nairobi.
Authorities said the move would result in the deportation of the individuals.
“We have spoken to the Tanzanian authorities and have agreed to round up these people and bring them back to their homes in Tanzania,” said Nairobi Police Chief James Mugera.
He said the operation will continue and expand to other parts of the country.
This follows fears that the beggars have spread to other rural towns in the country.
Mugera said he arrested two people behind the trafficking syndicate.
The hunt for other trafficking gangs is ongoing.
A BBC Africa Eye investigation revealed a trafficking ring bringing in disabled children from poor rural areas of Tanzania and forcing them to beg on the streets of Nairobi.
He showed how traffickers prey on the hopes of families in Tanzania, promising them a better life for themselves and their disabled children.
Once smuggled into Kenya, the children are forced to beg and deprived of any contact with their families.
The children do not receive a penny of the money they earn from begging and are subjected to physical and psychological abuse by their captors.
The arrest of the two and the planned deportation exposed a cartel of Tanzanian nationals using their physically disabled relatives and friends to solicit money on the streets of Kenya.
The trend of foreign beggars on the streets of Kenya seems to be gaining traction in the country.
For traffickers, children with disabilities from poor families represent a lucrative source of income, officials said.
No one knows the extent of the trafficking problem or how many young people have been forced into begging.
No authoritative study has ever been done, but experts estimate there are hundreds, if not thousands of victims, each representing a life of exploitation and a torn family.
Authorities said they raided several properties in Nairobi, freeing several disabled beggars. Some were either picked up or sent back to Tanzania.
Authorities said regional security agencies had been asked to carry out operations and bring the groups home.