Street Children in Malaysia
(blog entry from World:Bridge A Refugees International Blog)
Al Jazeera English recently did a piece on street children in Sabah, Malaysia. You can view the clip here. I visited Sabah in April while on mission in Malaysia to look at the humanitarian situation for Burmese refugees. Sabah is a beautiful part of Malaysia that attracts many visitors who are interested in eco-tourism. But it is also home to thousands of migrants from the Philippines and Indonesia whose children often do not have access to public services like health care and education.
Children of migrants in Sabah whose parents have been deported by immigration authorities, and who do not have any other guardians to care for them, often end up living on the street and are forced to find work at a young age. While in Sabah, I visited a fish market in Kota Kinabalu in the early morning and saw many children pushing heavy wooden carts for customers or sleeping on top of crates between the fish stands. According to local community workers I spoke with, these children are also targets for arrest and detention by immigration and police. The street children in Sabah are very vulnerable, particularly those who are without identity documents and may be at risk of being stateless.
If you would like to see more images of the conditions that the street children in Sabah live and work in, I highly recommend the photos of Greg Constantine, who has done some amazing work on Sabah, as well as on stateless populations throughout Asia. And for more information on street children in Malaysia in general, check out this blog on street children around the world.