By Elias Meseret | AP
ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia is banning street begging by Syrian
nationals who have startled people by showing up in growing numbers in
recent months in major cities around hotels and mosques.
“We are now coordinating our security services
to effectively ban Syrian citizens from begging. We have tolerated them
for some time but we have now decided to ban the illegal practice. …
They are becoming a burden,” the deputy head of Ethiopia’s immigration
office told The Associated Press on Friday.
560 Syrians entered between mid-August and mid-December and the majority
leave when their tourist visas expire, said the deputy, Yemane
Gebremeskel. While street begging is not illegal in Ethiopia — there is a
large presence of children — the act of entering the country as a
tourist and begging is, he said.
Nearly 120 other
Syrians have applied for refugee status in the East African nation that
hosts one of the world’s largest refugee populations, and they were
provided with support equaling around $73.
“We gave them what we could afford but they are still begging,” Yemane said.
Many Ethiopians were baffled when the Syrians began
appearing on the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa, displaying signs
written in the local Amharic language appealing for help.
One Syrian told the AP his family fled the war at home and has moved
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