Govt has abandoned street children – Ombudsman

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Investigations by the Office of the Ombudsman have established that government has abandoned street children and that civil servants demand allowances to follow up on cases involving street kids.

A report from the probe titled ‘abandoned on the street’ was released Friday in Lilongwe. The investigation was conducted in respect of a complaint received by the office ombudsman from Eye of the Child, a Non- Governmental Organization.

Martha Chizuma: It’s a national issue

Ombudsman Martha Chizuma said Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare as well as city  and district councils are not following up on cases involving street kids that are being registered by the police.

She added that there are many cases of street children in police but public officers demand allowances before attending to such cases.

Chizuma called for comprehensive effort towards the issue of street children in parts of the country.

“No matter how we ignore the street children they are still Malawians and it is a matter of national issue, these children have the same human  rights like  others,” she explained.

In her remarks, Director of Programs for Eye of Child Zipporah Jede said that street children lack parental care and guidance and are being denied the right to life and liberty which create a great impact on development of this country.

Jede said children are found in the streets for various reasons such as to beg after being abandoned by their parents due to poverty or family separation.

The report by the Ombudsman recommended that city and district councils should assess the number of children in their respective areas by 30th April.

The Ombudsman also directed the ministry to organize a meeting where a comprehensive plan of action should be developed and that councils in collaboration with the police should remove all children from the streets in the next twelve months.

In her response, Acting Director and Social Welfare in the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare Dina Chigumulira said that they are taking responsibility to meet the recommendations.

Chigumulira added that ministry has been taking action such as introducing a Social Rehabilitation Centre in Lilongwe to provide safe home for the children and introduction of National Child Strategy.

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