Nairobi. At least 78 beggars allegedly from Tanzania have been arrested in Nairobi in an operation targeting a secret trafficking network ring, reports The Star.
The ring brings the disabled persons from Tanzania and forces them into a life of modern-day slavery, begging on the streets of Nairobi.
Authorities said the move will result in the deportation of the individuals.
“We have talked to Tanzanian authorities and agreed to round up these people and take them to their home in Tanzania,” said Nairobi police boss James Mugera.
He said the operation will continue and spread to other parts of the country.
This follows concerns that the beggars had spread to other rural towns in the country.
Mugera said they arrested two people behind the trafficking syndicate.
The hunt for more of the trafficking gang is ongoing.
A BBC Africa Eye investigation exposed a trafficking network bringing in disabled children from poor rural regions of Tanzania and forcing them to beg on the streets of Nairobi.
It showed how the 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 into begging and denied all contact with their families.
The children do not receive a penny of the money they make from begging and are subjected to physical and psychological abuse by their captors.
The arrest of the two and planned deportation unmasked a cartel of Tanzanian nationals using their physically challenged relatives and friends to solicit money on Kenyan streets.
The trend of foreign beggars on Kenyan streets seems to be gaining currency in the country.
To the traffickers, disabled children from impoverished families represent a lucrative source of income, officials said.
No one knows the full scale of the trafficking problem or how many youngsters have been forced into begging.
No authoritative study has ever been done but experts estimate that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of victims, each representing a life of exploitation and a family torn apart.
The authorities said they raided several properties in Nairobi, freeing several disabled beggars. Some were either put into the care or returned to Tanzania.
Authorities said regional security agencies had been asked to conduct operations and get the groups for returning to their homes.