Dubai: Illegal residents who make public parks and pavements their dwellings are turning to alcohol abuse, social workers have warned. They are urging residents not to offer them financial help as the money encourages them to stay and resort to anti-social activities.
Many illegal residents turn public parks in Satwa and Karama into their homes, and social workers are taking the initiative to arrange for their exit passes from respective embassies and repatriate them to their countries.
K. Kumar, Convener of ICWC (Indian Community Welfare Committee), which is the social service arm of the Indian Consulate in Dubai said alcoholism among illegal residents is a serious concern, and it is landing many in trouble with the law enforcement authorities.
"We are coming across many cases where people who dwell in public parks live on alms, and after eating three meals a day, they have enough money to buy alcohol,'" he said.
"There were many volunteer organisations which used to visit parks and offer financial help to the needy. But now we are discouraging the practice as it is encouraging them to continue their illegal stay in the country," said Kumar.
He said ICWC volunteers have even found that bootleggers are active in areas like Satwa park as many illegal dwellers become their regular customers.
When Gulf News scouted the public parks in the wee hours, some of the illegal inhabitants said they are just using the place to rest and sleep.
"My company has not paid me for seven months and I have neither money nor a place to stay. I came to Dubai nine months ago, and I do not know anybody here. I have started living in this park in Satwa for the last two weeks and I do not know where my employer is," said Mohammad Jalal, 24, a Bangladeshi worker.
He said he was recruited by a cleaning company, and for the last four months his Filipino employer has absconded.
"My passport is with him and he is not taking my calls. I had paid 220,000 taka (approximately Dh11, 602) to the agent for my visa by mortgaging my family property. If I go back home, I will have to face the debtors. But I do not know how I can live in this park," said Jalal.
Muneer who runs Marzooqi cafeteria next to the park said he has seen some illegal residents indulging in a drunken revelry late at night. "There are people who deliver alcohol to these people, and there were groups of men who sit and drink till late. They used to buy water and soda from our shop. But nowadays there are not many people as the police regularly round them up from the park. I think many of them were also sent back home under the initiative of some social workers," said Muneer.
Bobby Joseph, vice president of Valley of Love, a charitable organisation based in Dubai, said his organisation has come across incidents where some people take advantage of the help the organisation offers to illegal residents.
"Now what we do is, we observe them for ten days to two weeks during night time and see whether they are indulging in any anti-social activities like drinking before we offer any help."
Illegal act: Report it to police
A police official has called on residents to report any illegal activity they see immediately, said Lieutenant Colonel Mohammad Al Muhairi, Director of the Dubai Police's Tourist Security Department. "Whenever we get tipoffs we investigate the matter immediately. We cannot just suppose that people take the money to buy alcohol. However, if we find it is true, we take action," he said.
— Siham Al Najami, Staff Reporter
Do you have this problem in your neighborhood? What issues have you faced? Have you seen this in any other areas? What do you think can be done to stop this?