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Govt campaign to take children off Kampala streets pays off

Street kids begging for money in Kampala traffic jam. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The number of destitute children on the streets around Kampala has drastically gone down following a campaign by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to withdraw, rehabilitate and resettle them, a survey has shown.

A mini-survey conducted on Monday, August 19, and Tuesday, August 20, on major Kampala streets like Kitgum House, Wandegeya and Fairway roundabout, Kampala Road and Jinja road showed no signs of the children.

The Minister of State for Children and Youth Affairs, Ms Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, observed that the operation is barely in the third month but the results are already impressive.

At the close of last Financial Year, the Ministry of Finance released Shs1 billion of the Shs3.4 billion that had been approved for the operation to evacuate and resettle the children whose numbers had exponentially grown especially in and around Kampala streets.

Ms Nakiwala says the funds were sent out to multiple institutions, including the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, as the lead agency, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and Ministry of Internal Affairs, among others, that had a defined role to play in ensuring that the operations is successful.

“I want to thank all partners for a job well done so far because I conducted an on-spot assessment of the hotspots where street children used to flock and I am happy to report that they are not there anymore,” Ms Nakiwala noted.

She specifically commended the civic actors, the various Children’s Homes where some of the children were taken for temporary custody and leaders of all categories in Kampala and beyond for pooling efforts together to ensure that the children are safely evacuated from the streets.

She reported that the children are undergoing rehabilitation and resettlement while others are getting skilled in various fields, which is a path to becoming citizens that actively make a contribution to national development.

Ms Nakiwala also appreciated the general public in Kampala for heeding to the call against issuing handouts to children on the streets and reechoed the appeal to anyone willing to sponsor the children to do so through registered Children’s Homes.

She revealed that all police units have been availed with a list of registered Children’s Homes in the country, which now add up to 160 spread across the regions, and emphasized that only those should be dealt with because their operations are sanctioned and monitored by Government.

She appealed to the Ministry of Finance to release the balance of the Shs2.4 billion that was approved for the withdraw and resettlement of street children so that the momentum is maintained.

The minister further notified the public that all abandoned children are supposed to be taken to the nearest police station as the immediate action. She cautioned that it’s against the Ugandan laws to take an abandoned child into your homes without the involvement of the police and probation officers.

“It is also wrong for Homeowners or administrators to go around communities looking for children promising them scholarships and other niceties without the stipulated legal backing. Otherwise, children should remain in the custody of their fathers and mothers or foster parents or better still in their original communities,” Ms Nakiwala said.

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