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.