Iraq deports '700 Asian beggars' in crackdown on undocumented expatriates
"Recently, beggars of Asian nationalities, have spread in the capital, Baghdad, who proliferate at road intersections, public squares, and in religious and recreational places," said a statement from the interior ministry.
It added that some were physically disabled and "use this to gain sympathy by passers-by" and they were cracking down on undocumented foreigners in Iraq.
The statement said the 700 individuals were expelled from Iraq for violating residency laws for foreigners and urged Iraqis to inform on other undocumented expatriates.
Mohammed al-Abadi from the Iraqi Bar Association said prosecuting these people would be difficult if they were involved in any crime as they do not have the proper paperwork.
"Their mere presence in Iraq without obtaining (legal) residency constitutes a violation of laws, and a large number of them also work," al-Abadi told The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.
There are reportedly 1 million foreign workers in Iraq - a country of more than 40 million people - and many do not have legal documentation. Iraq, like many other Arab countries, hosts large South Asian populations, who often work in manual and domestic labour.
This has led to competition in the country where the unemployment rate is believed to be around 40 percent, and which is trying to overcome decades of conflict.