YEMEN: New study highlights plight of street children

YEMEN: New study highlights plight of street children

Photo: Mohammed al-Jabri/IRIN
Cleaning car windscreens is a common job for street children

SANAA, 8 July 2008 (IRIN) – Ahmed (not his real name) has been sleeping near a secondary school in the centre of Sanaa city, Yemen’s capital, for almost a year. He said he had come from the northern governorate of Amran to work and support his family back home.

The 14-year-old sells cigarettes and sweets in the city.

"My father went to Saudi Arabia three years ago to find a job but didn’t come back. I have three brothers and one sister and my mother asked me to find any job here in Sanaa to sustain them," he said.

The boy makes 400-800 Yemeni riyals (about US$2-4) a day and did not want to rent a room, in order to save money.

Ahmed is among an estimated 30,000 street children in Yemen, of whom 60 percent work and sleep on the streets and tend to be separated from their families, according to a new study. The remaining 40 percent work the streets but return to some kind of makeshift home at night.

Launched on 6 July in Sanaa, the as yet unpublished study was done by the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood (SCMC), a government body, and was funded by the Arab Council for Childhood and Development (an Arab non-governmental organisation).

First government study

This is the first government study on street children and its results will be used to create a database for future programmes aimed at tackling the problem, according to the SCMC.

Photo: Mohammed al-Jabri/IRIN
There are 30,000 street children in Yemen, according to a new government study

The study, which analyses the factors leading to the phenomenon of street children, was conducted in eight of the country’s 21 governorates – Sanaa, Aden, Taiz, al-Hudeidah, Hadhramout, Ibb, Hajjah and Dhamar. Researchers selected 4,760 street children (718 girls and 4,042 boys), aged 6-17, as a sample group.

Migration to the cities, poverty, unemployment, high fertility rates, lack of social services, abandonment of support for the poor by the state – all led to the problem of street children, according to the study.

Leading researcher Fuad al-Salahi said work was also done on observing how networks which aimed to exploit street children came into being.

"They [street children] could be used for selling drugs and girls for sex; they could be trafficked and sold as well," he told IRIN. "These children want to live and so can be involved in such illegal activities," he said.

He noted that the number of street children was on the rise, but that of the 6,000 civil society organisations nationwide only 3-5 of them dealt with street children.

Al-Salahi said respondents from the sample group either never went to school or only managed to complete their basic education, and that violence in schools was a factor behind the problem of street children.

Afflicted by violence, disease

According to the study, 82.8 percent of respondents said their earnings went to help their families. The study found street children worked as street vendors (selling food and non-food items), porters and car washers. Some worked as beggars.

Photo: Mohammed al-Jabri/IRIN
Some 60 percent of Yemen’s street children work and sleep on the streets and tend to be separated from their families, according to a new study

Al-Salahi said street children, many of whom had moved from their home governorates to reach a big city, regarded the street as a saviour and were disappointed that their activities were often viewed with contempt.

"In Hadhramaut Governorate, 98 percent of street children were from other governorates; in Aden street children coming from other areas made up over 70 percent," he said.

According to the study, 62.2 percent of respondents came from urban areas, and about 25 percent said they were subjected to different forms of violence, including sexual abuse, robbery, beatings and harassment by municipality workers.

The study also found a number of diseases among the street children, like diarrhoea, malaria, back ache, constant dizziness, chronic chest inflammations, ophthalmia, hepatitis and tonsillitis. Some suffered from wasting and anaemia.



Azerbaijan announced a contest for best article on street children problem

Baku, Fineko/ “Other Shelter” Fund of Poland and NGOs have announced in Azerbaijan a contest among journalists on the theme “I am seeking a family”.

The Ministry of Labour & Social Protection of Azerbaijan informs that the project is financed by the Polish Embassy and US-Polish Fund “Freedom”.

“The project objective is to focus attention of the public on problems of gutter-children, their biological parents and families desiring to adopt children,” it was informed.

The contest receives articles and reports published in the media. The contest consists of three nominations: publication in the press, programme or reporting on any TV channel a programme or reporting on radio.

The prepared materials should touch one of the themes as follows: homelessness, pathologic families, children in boarding schools, children’s rights in foster homes, rights and commitments of biologic and foster family, problems and negative situation.

Money prize on each nomination for the best publication or programme makes AZN 300.

The works are received at the address: 85, S. Askerov St, Baku; AZ -1009; Ministry of Labour & Socila Protection, TACIS Project, until November 15, 2008.
Contact phones: (012) 596-50-39,  mob (070) 318-55-90, (055) 556-56-56

‘Police did not beat streetkids’

‘Police did not beat streetkids’
    Barbara Cole
    July 07 2008 at 01:01PM

Metro Police who have been accused of beating a group of street children with sjamboks did not assault them, a witness has said.

"The police are blamed for many things, but those police officials did not hit the street children," said a flat-owner, who did not want her name revealed, but whose details are known to the Daily News.

She was reacting to a story in the Daily News in which British holidaymaker Joe Walker, who works for a children’s rights organisation in the UK, said that he looked out of his flat window in Grosvenor Court and saw billowing smoke and terrified children at the site of the former military museum on Snell Parade.

"I raced outside and across to the hillock opposite the museum and saw three Metro police officials lashing out at the children with sjamboks," he said.

Walker said he tried to intervene and asked the police to extinguish the fire.

"The three police officials were extremely menacing and threatened me with imprisonment," he said.

But the Daily News reader, who watched the proceedings from her flat in the nearby Caribbean block of flats, was adamant that while the police burned the children’s rubbish, plastic and cardboard, they did not hurt them.

The children, whom she thought were aged between 12 and 18 years, had been in the same area for weeks, hanging up their clothes, urinating and littering the area. They also used a nearby tap and left it running, she said.

Walker could not be contacted on Sunday night.

After Walker’s complaints, Metro Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Thokamile Tyala said an investigation would be launched.

 o This article was originally published on page 2 of Daily News on July 07, 2008

Government, CSOs discuss study’s results on street children

[07 July 2008]

SANA’A, July 07 (Saba) – Sixty researchers, academics and specialists form government bodies and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working in childhood field discussed on Monday results of survey study made on street children in cooperation with Arab Council for Childhood and Development.

The study, which was carried out in eight governorates, aimed at defining size of street children phenomenon, its causes and dangers on children for setting up governmental plans for curing it.

In a workshop organized for this regard, Minister of Social and Labor Affairs Amat al-Razzaq Hummad talked about importance of the study in knowing size of the phenomenon through scientific and critical numbers and data.

She clarified that her ministry is working on carrying out survey studies on child labor in addition to another study on poverty cases to be implemented across the country.

Then the study results have been announced by the Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Maternity and Childhood Nafisah al-Gaefi.

Charity helping Mumbai street children to work with UNICEF

Charity helping Mumbai street children to work with UNICEF
6 Jul, 2008, 1108 hrs IST, PTI

LONDON: A charity engaged in improving the lives of street children in Mumbai has been chosen to work with the UNICEF in India and Vietnam for developing such kids’ life skills through the medium of sports.

The charity ‘Magic Bus’ and UNICEF plan to set up several pilot projects in various Indian states and train sports instructors and school teachers, the organisation’s Founder and Chairman, Matthew Spacie, MBE, said.

To start with, the programme would be extended to Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and rural Maharashtra with the "ultimate aim of involving 100,000 street children," Spacie, who quit Cox & Kings as its Chief Operating Officer in India to set up the charity in 1999, told PTI.

UK Sport, British government’s international sports agency, is also supporting the work of Magic Bus.

After winning the bid in Singapore to host the 2012 Olympics in London, the UK government had pledged to help develop sports in five countries and one of them is India.

"As a result, Magic Bus has been chosen to work with UNICEF in India to expand Magic Bus’ internationally renowned programme across the country," Spacie said.

The Greater Mumbai Corporation has also chosen Magic Bus to train teachers. "We plan to train 12 master trainers in each city who in turn will train 200 trainers every year. Many of the master trainers are selected by us and the government."

Magic Bus is implementing a sports project in Chattisgarh also with UNICEF’s assistance. "At the international level, we are coaching master trainers in Vietnam," Spacie said.

"Harnessing the power of sport to build self esteem, confidence and vital life skills, Magic Bus works in India to change the lives of children living on the streets and slums of Mumbai – children involved in drugs, children in red light district, orphans and rescued labourers."

Jail for giving to beggars…

Jail for giving to beggars…

    July 04 2008 at 08:37AM

Jakarta – People in an Indonesian city who give in to the tug of charity could face three months in jail under a law making it illegal to give money to beggars and street children.

The law, approved in June by the legislative council in Makassar, South Sulawesi, is meant to reduce the city’s swelling population of beggars, Mayor Ilham Arif Sirajuddin said.

"Under the law, people who give money to beggars will be jailed up to three months or have to pay a maximum fine of 1.5-million rupiah (about R1800)," he said. "This is an important decision to clear beggars from the streets."

Beggars and street children face three years in jail or fines up to five-million rupiah but the crackdown has come along with a programme to train beggars for work.

The population of beggars and street children in Makassar jumped from 870 in 2006 to 2600 in 2008, the mayor said. – Sapa-AFP

‘We watched cops beat kids’

 ‘We watched cops beat kids’

    July 03 2008 at 12:35PM

By Vivian Attwood

Two British visitors to Durban expressed shock and disappointment with the city after witnessing and taking photos of Metro police officials harassing and intimidating a group of beachfront street children.

Child rights organisations have reacted in anger at the incident which took place on Tuesday, and eThekwini and Metro have started their own investigation, saying that the city did not condone such behaviour.

There has been a series of unconfirmed reports from street children that they had been rounded up before major tourism events and abandoned some distance from the city.

In 2007 the Daily News reported an incident where an attorney saw Metro police officials burning street children’s belongings.

Joe Walker and his wife, Annabelle, woke at about 7.15am in a flat in the Grosvenor Court building, overlooking the former Military Museum on Snell Parade, to be confronted by the sight of billowing smoke and terrified children.

"I could hardly believe what I was seeing, or the irony of the situation," said Walker.

"I work for a children’s rights organisation in the UK called Street Action and have been to Durban on previous visits to liaise with local NGOs that work with street children. I hardly thought I’d be confronted by blatant human rights violations while on holiday here, though.

"I raced outside and across to the hillock opposite the museum, and saw three Metro police officials lashing out at the children with sjamboks.

"My wife was documenting the events with her camera cellphone from the flat, and filmed the burning of the children’s clothes and other belongings by the police officials.

"Since we arrived in KwaZulu-Natal I have chatted to those particular street kids on a number of occasions, so I tried to intervene and request that the police extinguish the fire. The three police officials were extremely menacing, and threatened me with imprisonment.

"’These kids are the main cause of crime and drugs in this area,’ one of them bellowed," Walker said.

"That’s absolutely untrue. This particular group of children takes enormous pride in keeping their persons and clothing neat and clean, and none of them sniffs glue. They have seen what it does to their fellow street children."


Walker said that in his opinion, the city was skating on thin ice by courting potentially negative international media coverage of its stance towards street children.

"Apart from the aggression shown by the police officials, the fact that they arrived with both a police van and a large police transport vehicle makes it plain that if I hadn’t interceded, the children would have been forcibly removed from the area and dumped somewhere outside Durban, as they say has happened many times in the past," he said.

"It feels like these round-ups are being sanctioned from on high. We will definitely be putting the images we captured on our website.

"The Durban Metro Police need to realise that they are violating children’s constitutional rights. These are serious actions that will inevitably be exposed in the international media."

Later in the morning, several of the street children gravitated back to the site of Tuesday’s confrontation. They were clean and clear-eyed, but obviously very nervous.

"We are scared, but we don’t know where else to go," said a 16-year-old girl.

"They said they are coming back, and we don’t want to be put in the truck. Sometimes they take us very far from Durban and leave us there."

Metro Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Thokamile Tyala said the incident had not been brought to his attention, but that an investigation would be launched.

"I must stress that we do respect children’s human rights," he said.

"If these events happened, then those responsible will be called to account and can be punished. They are not above the law, and due processes will be followed."

City manager Michael Sutcliffe said: "If this incident took place as it has been described, action will be taken against those involved. I will need a full report from the Metro Police. Until I have had a chance to examine it, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Joan van Niekerk, national director of Childline, said she was "absolutely appalled by the allegations".

"This is the second fairly serious incidence of police brutality towards children that has been reported to Childline in 2008," she added.

"The first, in the North West, required the intervention of the Child Law Centre in Pretoria."

Van Niekerk said that Tuesday’s incident underlined the extent to which vulnerable children on the street were "not seen as human beings but another genus altogether".

Tom Hewitt, chief executive officer of the Umthombo Street Children advocacy organisation, said: "Metro Police seem to be operating unilaterally."

In contrast, the municipality’s City Health department and the Point and Durban Central SAPS have in 2007 embarked on positive steps towards more compassionate and strategic solutions to the issue.

          o This article was originally published on page 3 of Daily News on July 03, 2008

Growing army destitutes alarming, House told

Growing army destitutes alarming, House told
Dailynews Reporter
Daily News; Thursday,July 03, 2008 @00:02

Over half of the parents residing along Mahita Street in Morogoro Municipality engage their children in street begging to earn a living. The Deputy Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children, Dr Lucy Nkya, revealed in the National Assembly yesterday that the facts were revealed in a survey conducted in the area recently.

"Some 60 per cent of the parents interviewed admitted that they send their children to streets to beg and bring back to them what they got," she said when answering Special Seats Legislator, Mrs Kidawa Hamid Saleh (CCM) who expressed concern over the practice.

Mrs Saleh said street begging was humiliating to children and called for stern measures against such parents. The deputy minister who attributed the problem to poverty said the government was working on the matter. Mrs Saleh had also wanted to know reasons that drove people into the streets and the rising number of the so-called street kids.

She said the government had no official statistics on the magnitude of the problem, although a number of studies that covered selected areas and for different purposes were conducted by various government institutions, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and religious institutions.

Dr Nkya said currently her ministry was negotiating with the International Consortium for Street Children of the UK through the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam to carry out a nation-wide study to establish the extent of the problem. "Findings of the studies will help the government develop a sustainable programme of solving the problem," she said.

City faces alarming rise in addicts, juvenile beggars

City faces alarming rise in addicts, juvenile beggars

By SHAFI BALOCH July 3, 2008

KARACHI – Owing to the rampant unemployment of their parents due to off-fishing season, a number of fishermen’s children have started involving in begging and drug trafficking and this trend has resulted in a sharp rise in the number street children making their percentage up to 40 % in the metropolitan, said the President of Initiator Human Development Foundation (IHDF), Asif Rana Habib, while talking to The Nation here on Thursday.Rana said the unavailability of any alternative profession has led the minor boys to earn their bread by begging during the off-fishing season.He further revealed that condition of street children is worse that that of the refugees or prisoners in the country and there is no official record maintained by the government.He added that most of the street children living in all of the sixty katchchi abadies, including Machchar Colony, Butta Colony, Bangali Para, Teen Hatty, Ibrahim Hydri, Hundred Quarters of Orangi Town, Bilal Colony and others. There are around hundred hotels in the city where such children are seen waiting for someone to provide them food, he said.Rana strongly criticised the role of NGOs and said that there are fifteen centres set up for the rehabilitation of such children obtaining millions of rupees from the international donor agencies but they have failed to control the situation.He said that due to the negligence on the part of the government, such children are being exploited by different mafias, who use them for begging, drug trafficking and other illegal activities.Rana said that ninety percent of street children are users of different intoxicated items in which 74 per cent use glue and heroin. Another 43 per cent of the drug-user children are of ages under fifteen. He mentioned the several children have, so far, died while using these drugs.“Similarly, the children are also being used for drug peddling and are severely punished and sexually abused in case they refuse to do so”, he said.Rana lamented that there was no law for the rehabilitation of such children in Sindh while the Punjab government has taken the initiative to introduce a law in this regard. He said that rehabilitation centres have been set up for street children in twelve districts of Punjab but no initiative has been taken in Sindh so far. He said the recommendations in this regard had been given to the previous Sindh Chief Minister but he refused to legalise the matter.He also said that due to increase in the street children the street crime rate is on the rise day by day as a number of children are getting involved in drug trafficking and addiction in the city. He further said that more than 15,000 street children in Karachi alone are being used for sexual abuse.

Senate Body urges to protect “street Children” of the country

Senate Body urges to protect "street Children" of the country

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee has urged upon the Government to accord priority to the social sector of the society by improving the lot of the downtrodden, weak and vulnerable segments of society particularly women and children.

The Senate standing Committee met here on Monday in the Parliament House in the heading of Senator Mir Mohammad Naseer Mengal and stressed on a passionate plea for protecting the 1,50,000 ’street children’ all over the country as uncertainty related to their future stares them in the face.

The committee further directed the Ministry of Social Welfare to conduct a country wide survey for assessing the actual number of street children and later create arrangements for bringing them in to the Child Protections Center (CPC) for their comprehensive education and well being, so as to enable them to earn a decent living in future.

The Senate Committee further proposed to establish (CPC) in the four provinces of the country as the only one National Child Protection Center (CPC) working in Islamabad was insufficient to protect the ’street children’ of all over the country, as "these children were the future of the country and we cannot afford to neglect them".

The Committee further directed the Ministry to set up special counters in all District Headquarters Hospitals (DHQs) to facilitate the poor deserving patients with serious diseases by arranging free medicines, blood artificial limbs, clinical tests, etc and termed the present prevailing procedure of verification of data for such patients as being cumbersome and directed to simplified the system to get Zakat / Bait-ul-Mal funds swiftly.

The Senate body also took notice of the mismanagement and impropriety at the Tawana Pakistan Project (TPP) and constituted a sub committee to conduct a through probe into the matter.

Senators Shuja-ul-Mulk, Semeen Siddiqui, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Muhammad Anwar Baig, Khalid Soomro and Kulsoom Parveen besides Secretary Ministry of social Welfare attended the meeting.