Up to 20,000 street children living in Germany: Terres des Hommes

Up to 20,000 street children living in Germany: Terres des Hommes

Berlin, March 11, IRNA

The children’s aid agency Terres des Hommes reported Tuesday that up to 20,000 runaway children, teenagers and young adults are at times living on the streets, news reports said.

Many of them are sick or left without a perspective. Every second homeless child or youth is being assisted by local aid projects, said Uwe Britten speaking on behalf of terres des hommes.

Half of those people taking part in the aid projects are under the age of 18 and three percent under 14. Around 35 percent of girls are also affected, he added.

Terres des Hommes and 25 other organizations and initiatives are planning to step up taking care of the growing number street children.

Homelessness is only a superficial problem, Britten pointed out.

He linked the reasons for children and teenagers to run away from homes to problems like violence in families, separation, alcoholism and drug abuse by parents.

According to Terres des Hommes, the health condition of street children and homeless teenagers is also dismal as many of them are grappling with depression, alcohol and drug problems as well as hepatitis.


Growing number of street children in Germany, report says

Growing number of street children in Germany, report says
Posted : Tue, 11 Mar 2008 15:54:00 GMT
Author : DPA

Berlin – Up to 20,000 children and juveniles are living on the streets of Germany, one of Europe’s wealthiest countries, the children’s relief group Terre des Hommes said Tuesday. Domestic violence, neglect or parental drug abuse are some of the reasons that lead to children running away and becoming homeless, according to a report prepared for the organization.

The report’s author, writer Uwe Britten, warned that street children were in danger of becoming outcasts in society and later passing on this status to their own children.

The study showed that not all those covered in the survey lived on the streets permanently. Some used this option as an escape when things at home become intolerable.

Many suffered from illness and had little prospect of obtaining regular employment, the study showed. About half received some form of help from relief projects.

Half of those living on the streets were under 18 and 3 per cent under 14. About one-third of those receiving help were girls.

Terre des Hommes said it had joined forces with 25 other relief organizations to form an Alliance for Street Children with the aim of pooling resources to get to grips with the problem.

While poverty is the main cause for social deprivation among young people, there are also cases of street children coming from wealthy backgrounds, according to Britten.

According to statistics released by the German Society for the Protection of Children, some 2.6 million children in Germany – one in six – live in poverty. Among children under 15, the percentage is one in four.

Concern grows over more and more street kids in Germany

Concern grows over more and more street kids in Germany

11 January 2007

BERLIN – Mischa is 18. You find him most days at the entrance to the Frankfurter Allee suburban railway (S Bahn) station in Berlin strumming his guitar.

German streetOnly an eight-year-old when his parents divorced, he remained with his mother in Rostock, but when she died of cancer three years ago, he found himself alone in the world.

Unable to find a job and soon kicked out of his small city apartment he gravitated to Berlin, where he ganged up with a group of punks he met on the city’s Alexander Platz, and drifted into the drug-culture scene.

Mischa earns a few euros a day plucking tunes out of his guitar for passers-by, but it is not enough for him to pay for nightly lodging. “Most nights I sleep ’rough’ on park benches when my pals have no room for me,” he says glumly.

One of the more than 2,000 homeless street kids found in Berlin in 2007, Mischa is pessimistic about ever finding a job in the German capital. “Without a school leaving certificate, I am without qualifications,” he says.

According to the Osnabruck-based “Terre des Hommes” aid organization there are approximately 7,000 youngsters living on the streets in Germany and more than a third of them can be found in the German capital.

Peter Mucke, the director of the 1967-founded help organisation says poverty, troubled family backgrounds, violence, drugs and alcohol, are just some of the factors behind the growing German street kid scene in recent years.

Youth administration department officials say after the fall of the Berlin Wall, large numbers of young people from small towns and rural areas in east and west Germany began heading to Germany’s bigger cities.

Aid organisations

To cope with the rise in Street Kid numbers, youth aid networks have been restructured in Berlin and placed under the control of the Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain district authorities. Three aid organisations now pledge help for homeless youngsters.

Local punks get offered “one euro jobs” painting porcelain plates and other tasks. Later, those without final school leaving certificates are encouraged to sit them again and are aided in their hunt for apprenticeships.

The most prominent aid organisation in Berlin is the “Karuna Verein” (Karuna Association), which in the past decade has helped up to 800 homeless teenagers annually find work and shelter.

Other organisations include “Off Road Kids,” which is active in Berlin, Hamburg, Dortmund and Cologne, and “Klik” near the Rosenthal Platz (Square) in Berlin, which proffers advice and guidance for Street Kids.

Peter Knauft, the chairman of Terre des Hommes in Stuttgart, says life gets tougher for youngsters in Germany. “You have increasing violence and more children than ever living on the streets,” he says.

Terre des Hommes claims that 217 million children in the developing world are wrongfully forced to work, 120 million of them under the most appalling conditions.

Germany’s street kids mostly come from broken or poverty-stricken family backgrounds. “Those arriving in Berlin mostly have no idea where they should go in seeking help,” says Joerg Richert, Karuna’s business manager.

Seven years ago, the average age of Berlin’s street kids was almost to 18. Now, it’s down to 16.3 years – “with some among them only 14,” he says.

Twenty to 30 per cent of Germany’s homeless youngsters stem from neighbouring federal states. Stripped of family links, some street kids end up stranded in the city’s twilight drug-culture scene.

Forty years ago on January 4 1967, 41 men and women founded the German section of Terre des Hommes in Stuttgart. By 1968, it boasted 29 working groups across the country.

Today, in addition to 80 full-time workers in Germany and 70 in ”project countries” abroad, it has more than 3,000 worldwide voluntary workers.

Street Children on the Rise in Germany, Aid Agency Warns

Street Children on the Rise in Germany, Aid Agency Warns

The number of children living on the street in Germany is growing, according to the charity terre des hommes. The increasing disparity between rich and poor, as well as diminishing family structures, are to blame.

Germany is one of the wealthiest countries in Europe. Yet thousands of children are living on the streets, according to the children’s relief organization Terre des Hommes (TDH).


"We have observed this development in Germany for the past 10 years," TDH director Peter Mucke told the newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Thursday. "In this time, the number of street children has grown significantly."


Mucke quoted statistics by the German Ministry for Family Affairs, which estimates that there are up to 7,000 children living on the country’s streets.


The gap between rich and poor is growing


Mucke said the problem was particularly pronounced in larger cities, such as Hamburg and Berlin, where tdh also has projects for street children.


"In Hamburg, you can see children who hang around on the streets all day long, but also in part live on the streets at night, too," Mucke said. The street children included those who have completely left home and those who live on the street all day but have a shelter for the night.


According to Mucke, the growing gap between rich and poor in Germany was to blame.


"It’s a similar phenomenon as in developing countries, in which a few profit from growing wealth and, at the same time, a lot of people become poorer," Mucke said. He added that weakening family ties and stability also played a role.


German society faces a breakdown


If this situation continued, a ghettoization of the rich could result in Germany, Mucke said. This was already the case in many developing countries.


Organizations like the Lindenhaus in Dresden give shelter to homeless youthBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Organizations like the Lindenhaus in Dresden give shelter to homeless youth

"There, the rich often live completely insulated from the poor," Mucke said. "This results in a downright break in society."


Some 2.5 million children under the age of 18 live below the poverty line in Germany, according to government figures. The Federal Statistics Office warned last month that a further 1.7 million children are in danger of falling into poverty, largely due to their parents’ unemployment.


Helping children quickly


Osnabrück-based TDH Germany celebrates its 40th anniversary on Monday. It was founded on Jan. 8, 1967, to help children injured in the Vietnam War. The Terre des Hommes movement was started in Switzerland in 1960.


"The images of the war in Vietnam robbed us of our sleep," said founding member Lutz Beisel. "We wanted to help quickly and found doctors, hospitals and foster parents to take care of these children." The initiative brought Vietnamese children to Germany for treatment.


Today, TDH Germany supports around 500 projects in 25 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Germany. In 2005, it received 25.9 million euros ($33.9 million) in donations.