Step up sensitization on the plight of street children, urges VP

Step up sensitization on the plight of street children, urges VP

Written By:VPPS   , Posted: Mon, Oct 01, 2007

Caption: Vice President Awori is congratulated by the Permanent Secretary, Public Service Reform and Development Secretariat, Joyce Nyamwea, after officially opening a three-day workshop on National Strategy for Rehabilitation of Street families.

Vice President Moody Awori has appealed for greater public awareness about the plight of street children.

He said street children encounter stigmatization by the public for reasons that are not of their making.

Street life for such children is the preferred option to the abuse and poverty in their home environments, he noted and called for urgent measures to address the underlying causes.

The Vice President was speaking on Monday when he opened a three-day National Strategy Workshop on Rehabilitation of Street Families at Utalii College, Nairobi.

The workshop, which brings together partners from the civil society, key government ministries and the local authorities, aims at finding comprehensive and lasting solution to the street life phenomenon.

Mr. Awori singled out the supporting and strengthening of foster care and family integration systems as one of the solutions that should be given serious consideration, adding that families supporting children in need should also be supported.

He said there is need to address the issue of foster care in the country, which he noted was facing a lot of challenges and urged Kenyans to discard traditional beliefs and practices that discriminate children who are considered cursed.

Mr. Awori said Kenya is estimated to host more than 300,000 children and youth on the streets who engage in survival tactics that endanger their well being and that of the society.

"Most of them are abused, neglected, exposed to criminal and gang activities, suffer poor health due to their lifestyles and exposure to harsh environment, drug and substance abuse, and exposure to HIV/AIDS infection", he lamented.

He said the large numbers of children who live and work in the streets is a reflection of some of the most intractable development challenges of the society, which he attributed to lack of proper education and family guidance in upbringing.

The Vice President said the government recognizes that children regardless of their social status must equally enjoy their rights as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Children’s Act, laws of Kenya.

Mr. Awori said it is in this light that the government in 2003 put in place emergency intervention measures to relocate children from the streets and availed rehabilitation, education and skills training opportunities.

He said the Ministries of Home Affairs and Local Government have jointly set up reception facilities for children and mobilized staff from the two ministries, local authorities, civil society and volunteers to provide service for the children and families.

Mr. Awori at the same time said the Street Families Rehabilitation Trust Fund was also established to help in mobilizing resources from the Public, Private Sectors and Development partners and oversee the national initiative.

The Local Government Minister, Musikari Kombo, said the government is committed to providing services to all Kenyans including street families through placing more emphasis on their rehabilitation.

Mr. Kombo directed all local authorities in the country to establish welfare programmes for street families as a way of eradicating their suffering and reduce their presence in the streets in future.

Also present at the function were, the Local Government Permanent Secretary, Solomon Boit and his Public Service Reforms and Development Secretariat counterpart, Ms. Joyce Nyamwea among other senior government officials.

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