KAMPALA – Over 90% of street children in Uganda are not orphans but are victims of violence by their parents, which forces them to flee their homes, a new report shows.
According to Mr Mondo Kyateeka, the commissioner for youth and children’s affairs in the ministry of Gender, the revelations by the report, which was commissioned by the ministry, was a shock as they had initially thought the children were largely orphans.
“We were surprised to learn that 90% of children living on streets have their parents but they cannot go back. This is because violence in homes is too much,” Mr Kyateeka said.
“Our study also shows that that 95 percent of children in child care centres are not orphans but they were neglected by their parents. Many of these children know where they came from but they were abandoned by parents because they cannot look after them,” he added.
He was speaking at a policy dialogue and consensus meeting on ending child trafficking and unsafe migration along Kampala-Napak corridor.
The commissioner added that their recent study revealed most of the street children know their parents and where they came from but have vowed never to go back.
Harriet Mudundo, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)’s director for gender and production, said unless the government intervenes, street children are a time bomb for this country.
“We conducted a study on children living on streets and what surprised us was that their more children from Central region living on Kampala streets than those from Karamoja and other parts of this country. The issue of street children it is no longer for Karamoja because there are many children leaving their homes in Buganda for streets,” Ms Mudundo said.
Mr Kyateeka added that children said situations from their homes were worse than living on streets. He cited reasons that have forced children to go on streets such as mistreatment from parents, guardians, stepmothers and lack basic needs like decent meals.
Mudundo urged leaders to implement urban and district ordinances to punish whoever is involved in bringing children on streets.
Dwelling Places country director Deymond Wamala said they also conducted a study in districts of Napak, Soroti, Iganga, Mbale, Kampala, Tororo, Busia and Jinja which revealed that children on streets are deployed to beg money ranging from Shs10000-Shs20000 daily.
“If someone has 10 children who earn him Shs200000 daily, he would be able to collect over Shs6m every month. We need to interest ourselves on who bring these children on streets,” Mr Wamala said.
Ayivu county MP Benard Atiku said emphasis should be put on restricting movement of unaccompanied children in buses and other public means of transport. He added that children from Karamoja were being smuggled to neighbouring countries like Kenya and Tanzania for labour and sexual exploitation.