The volume of child beggars is increasing at an alarming rate in Beirut. Unsurprising, given the continuous pour of Syrian refugees into this tiny land. Working in Hamra is a constant reminder of the alarming numbers. Unlike in Achrafieh or Downtown, where Syrians are less tolerated, you cannot walk across the street without being accosted. As a white person I am very much targeted. The children are taught young. But there is a change occurring, there are more children and everyday they are different children where previously you might have seen the same faces in the same areas. Trafficking of minors is very obviously at play here but worryingly, the beggar children are slowly becoming violent. A reflection of how they are being treated and the lives they are enduring. These are children who will grow up angry and with a grudge against the entire world for what they are going through. And, who could blame them.
On Saturday evening, a child beggar not more than 6 years old approached our table. He couldn’t focus on anything and was very agitated. He didn’t ask for money, he directly began hitting people and before I could stop him he made a bee-line for a half smoked but still lit cigarette in the center of the table and directly tried to stub it out on my arm.
A child repeats what it learns, this child began shaking his head afterwards in a nonsensical way showing signs of severe mental issues or the side effects of drugs, which is a very real possibility here where there are no boundaries to what is done or forced from the children beggars.