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IDSC2020: Street Children Deserve a Safe Space in the Outbreak of Coronavirus

Street Children Empowerment Foundation (SCEF) joins the world to mark the International Day for Street children today 12th April, 2020 in the outbreak of coronavirus. SCEF would like to appeal to all persons to respect the rights of children in response to coronavirus.

This year’s International Day for Street Children has come at a time when the world is hit with the outbreak of coronavirus. Around the world, there is a partial lockdown including Ghana to fight the spread of coronavirus. Most street children are still left on the streets, whilst we all stay in our homes.

Street children suffer multiple violations on the streets in the quest to make ends meet. Their plight has worsened because of this pandemic.

In Ghana , there are thousands of street children, A census conducted in 2011 by the department of social welfare revealed that there were over sixty thousand (60,000) street children in Greater Accra alone. The partial lockdown in Ghana affects the Greater Accra Metropolis and Greater Kumasi Metropolis where most of our street children are found. What happens to street children who are left out on our streets?

Social workers are worried about the situation, they lament because they were not considered as essential workers in this outbreak. However, some of them found their way out to support street children. Speaking with Mr. Selasie Gbeglo, a social worker with over twenty years’ experience, he reiterated that the street children and their families are crying for food and water.

“As a source of hope to street children and their families I could not stay at home while they were left on the streets. I found my way to Kantamanto, old Fadama, Agbologbloshie and Circle Odorna to check on street children and their families. I observed that, they were still sleeping in the markets; kantamanto, old Fadama, Agbogbloshie and Circle Odorna. Their plea was for one major thing food and water.  At each location more than 500 of them run to me for food, which I could not provide. I linked them to the various food avenues made available for them by the government. I think the government should work together with us (Coalition of non-governmental organizations) to assist street connected children and their families.’’  Social Worker Selasie Gbeglo noted.

Most NGOs who work closely with street children are helping in their own small ways to reach out to children in street situations. Chance for Children, Street Children Project, Street Children Empowerment Foundation, Muslim Family Counselling Services, Christ the King Kitchen Soup and many others are distributing food, water, hand sanitizers, facial masks and soaps to street children.

Speaking with the Executive director of Muslim Family and Counselling Services (MFCS) Mr. Mohammed Bun Bida, he said they provide sixty eight (68) packs of hot meals to street children since the beginning of the lock down.

The Street Children Project are also not left out as they are providing 200 hundred packs of hot meals to street children in Kumasi.

Executive director of Street Children Project Sister Olivia Omuh, said, they are happy the government has taken the initiative to share up to four hundred thousand food to vulnerable people including street children. However, she questions if the government is able to identify the real vulnerable and marginalized in society?

‘’ I believe the Government should work  in collaboration with the Ngo’s that are already serving the vulnerable ones because they have the capacity to pinpoint those that are really in need of the food, since they are working with them. The government’s initiative sounds impressive, but has not made the condition of the target group better. It has taken too long to get round. In Kumasi the poor have not yet received anything.’’  Sister Olivia added.

Although NGO’s working with street children are doing their best to help street children and their families, they are of a high risk because the few shelters are closed.

The government is encouraged to join hands with non-governmental organizations to provide safe spaces, food, water and access to information on how to stay safe for street children. Street children have become more vulnerable in this pandemic.

Let us all stand with street children, to demand a safe space and better conditions for them in this difficult time, as we mark the International Day for Street Children.