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    Homeless children

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    Homeless children

    مُساهمة من طرف Admin في الثلاثاء ديسمبر 09, 2014 6:36 pm

    Homeless children
                   


    It might be hard to tell how many children are living on the street in Egypt,
    but one thing is clear the number are very large and almost certainly
    growing. With the difficulty of quantifying the phenomenon, studies
    estimate that there are between 200.000 and 1,000,000 homeless children
    in the country, most of them in the cities of Cairo and Alexandria.


    These children lead an unhealthy and often dangerous life that leaves them
    deprived of their basic needs for protection, guidance, and supervision
    and exposes them to different forms of exploitation and abuse. For
    many, survival on the street means begging and sexual exploitation by
    adults.


    World health organization studies show that street children suffer from
    health problems ranging from cholera to tuberculosis and anemia, and
    that they are exposed to a variety of toxic substances, both in their
    food and in the environment around them. They are also at risk of
    various kinds of abuse. In a survey in 200.86 percent of street
    children identified violence as a major problem in their life. In
    another survey, 50 percent stated that they had been exposed in some
    manner to rape.


    UNICEF is working with NGOs such as hope village society, CARITAS and the
    Egyptian association for the protection of children in Alexandria
    and Qena to improve the lives of street children and to educate and
    empower individual boys and girls. The project is being implemented
    through reception centers targeting street children.


    The centres, set up to deal specifically with the problems faced by street
    children, provide them with meals and the space to rest or engage in
    recreational activities.


    UNICEF supports the centers by training social workers on the rights of
    children and the risks that the children face on the street, and also
    by providing training directly to the children themselves through the
    social workers. The centres also provide health services ranging from
    check-ups to hospital referrals.


    A number of the children at the centres are trained to act as "mentors"
    to other children living on the street. The children are trained to
    understand and deal with the potential health threats of living on the
    street, and then pass information on to their peers on the street.


    In another initiative implemented by CARITAS and four other NGOs in Cairo and Alexandria,
    street children are encouraged to reflect on their lives and to express
    their thoughts and hopes about their future. The children to this in a
    creative, participatory manner by compiling pictures, drawings, poems
    and stories which are to be published in the "white book of our future".

    Supporting the work on the ground, and building on the national strategy for the
    protection and rehabilitation of street children (launched in early
    2003 under the auspices of the first lady, Suzanne Mubarak), the
    National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, supported by UNICEF,
    began developing a national plan of action for street children
    involving all concerned partners. Focus will be on children already
    living rough, ensuring that they receive access to the basic services
    they are deprived of. The rehabilitation and reintegration of street
    children back into society will be the focus, along with changes to the
    1996 child law that will street children as victims and at-risk rather
    than as deviants and criminals, as is currently the case.


    Information about street children – Egypt

    Background: The majority of Egypt's 66.4 million inhabitants are concentrated into caused massive migration to CairoAlexandria.
    Although the national authorities are committed to tackling poverty,
    around 23% of the population still lives below the national poverty
    line. Despite free education, 60% of adult females and 36% of adult
    males are illiterate because the system remains unable to cope with the
    population growth. 93.1% of the population are Moslems, and 6.7% are
    Christian. and


    Definitions and Statistics: there is a black of consensus on low to define street
    children and NGOs, the media and government operate with different
    terms. The national council of Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) used the
    term "homeless child" instead of "street child', but reflect a similar
    understanding as NGOs in referring to them as children whose family
    and/or community have been unable to meet their basic needs due to
    social and economic problems, and who spend most or all of their time
    on the street with minimal or no contact with their family. These
    children are lacking in any kind of care and protection, and are
    vulnerable to physical and psychological danger and exploitation
    violating their basic rights.


    The official legal definition has until recently been "juvenile
    delinquents', but street children are now labeled 'vulnerable to
    delinquency' according to Egypt's child law (law 12 of 1996), which
    includes all persons under 18 who beg, sell or perform on the streets
    for money, collect rubbish, engage in 'immoral conduct', lack a stable
    place of residence, associate with suspected persons, and who lack a
    legal source of income or support.


    Because of these multiple definitions, there are no official or reliable
    statistics on the magnitude of the problem of street children in Egypt.
    The high mobility of street children also complicates the validity of
    any survey. The closest indicator is therefore the number of children
    arrested – of the 42.505 children arrested in 2001, 10.958 of them were
    charged with being 'vulnerable to delinquency'.


    With regard to the age of children on the streets, random NGO samples
    suggest that 13 years is the average. A quarter of the street child
    population is believed to be less than 12 years old, with two-thirds
    between 13 and 16 years old and only 10% over 17.


    Factors pushing children onto the streets: the key factors pushing children onto the streets in Egypt
    are family break up (divorce, separation, remarriage, and death), large
    family size, child abuse and neglect, low income and educational
    levels, unplanned rural- urban migration and children's difficulties in
    coping with the formal school system, increasing the rate of drop-out.


    Constraints and challenges: legislation is a problem in that it still permits
    police to arrest children who are not suspected of crimes but who are
    'vulnerable to delinquency'. This hinders the work of NGOs by
    preventing children from reaching drop-in centres for rehabilitation.
    It is also very hard to obtain legal documents for the children such as
    birth certificates to allow them access to governmental facilities such
    as healthcare, school or vocational training.


    The quality of educational and training for social workers is very low and
    work with street children is not respected in society, which makes it
    difficult to find qualified or motivated staff. There is very little
    understanding of children's needs among actors throughout the system,
    including police, judiciary and social workers.


    There is a lack of cooperation between NGOs and government agencies, which
    has greatly reduced the range and quality of services available to
    street children, particularly in terms of alternative rehabilitative
    strategies such as fostering, which is still not recognised.


    Finally, stigma and violence towards street children also hinders active
    community participation and motivation regarding sustainable
    rehabilitation programmes.


    Achievements: progress has been made in the last decade in terms of legislation for street children, with Egypt signing all the international conventions on child protection. It also
    ratified the child law in 1996 which is intended to prevent children
    'vulnerable to delinquency' from becoming criminals by holding parents
    criminally responsible for their failure to oversee/ensure their child's behavior.


    In recent years the attention to the street children phenomenon has also
    increased, partly due to declarations from the NCCM under the auspice
    of the first lady Susan Mubarak. A 'National Strategy to protect,
    integrate and rehabilitate street children' was also launched by the
    NNCM in March 2003.


    A network 'to confront the street children phenomenon' has been
    established between Egyptian NGOs working with this group, and a
    capacity building initiative is currently being implemented do train
    street children to become 'street Peer health educators'. The 'white
    book' project is also working to publish in Arabic and English a tool
    for street children to describe their hopes, dreams and reflections
    based on their own stories, drawings and poetry.


    Lessons learned: the importance of mobilizing community participation to
    increase awareness about children living on the streets. Prominent
    figures in society (e.g. school headmaster, doctors and journalists)
    are well placed to undertake influential advocacy and facilitate close
    cooperation between institutions. A successful strategy to reduce
    stigma has been to exhibit the talents of street children to the
    community through theatre, art and musical concerts. Mixing street
    children with other local children through youth clubs and sporting
    events has also proved important in this respect.



    Applying educational methods at drop-in centers based around the needs of street
    children and which do not depend on daily attendance are important. For
    example, simple vocational training exercises that within a single day
    lead to a final product are important for children to see the results
    of their efforts. This seeks to help the child understand the value of
    knowledge and to encourage them to approach the learning of practical
    skills with more commitment.


    Programs should treat street children not as passive recipients of services but
    as responsible partners, equipping them with life skills and the
    ability to think critically and protect themselves on the streets. This
    involves sending street workers to meet and interact with children in
    their own natural environment on the street, rather that waiting for
    them to come to the centre.


    Recommendations:

    Conduct comprehensive surveys in cooperation with universities or INGOs to obtain a more complete picture of street children in Egypt.

    Study and implement good practices learned from other countries with a longer tradition of dealing with these problems.

    Change social perceptions of street children through information workshops for
    journalists and other actors responsible for dealing with children's
    issues in the mass media.

    Implement ongoing upgrading and capacity building for social workers.

    Support NGOs in finding and purchasing suitable locations for more drop-in
    centers for street children (NGOs are having increasing problems
    securing buildings as local communities are not keen to have such shelters in their vicinity).


    This report is taken from "A civil society forum for North Africa and the Middle East on promoting and protecting the rights of street children". 3-6 March 2004, Cairo, Egypt.
    A full version of the civil society forum report is also available on the CSC website.

    Prepared by: mohamed el said ahmed


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