International Day for Street Children

Action for Development (AfD) supports International Street Children Day, which will be held this Sunday, April 12, 2020. Launched for the first time in 2011, the International Day for Street Children aims at, inter alia, raising awareness about the issue of child labour around the world.

Although nearly all countries have signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and have therefore a legal obligation to integrate all these rights into national law, children’s rights are still violated in many countries and street children are the most directly affected.

To draw governments’ attention to this specific issue, the Consortium for Street Children (CSC) has released the Four Steps to Equality guidelines in late 2017. These guidelines summarise the United Nations General Comment No21 on Children in Street Situations in four steps that should be taken by the governments in order to address this issue:

  • Step 1 – Commit to equality: Recognise street children have the same rights as everyone else and reflect that in the law.
  • Step 2 – Protect every child: Protect street children from violence and abuse, and ensure children have access to justice when they are harmed.
  • Step 3 – Provide access to services: Enable access to the same essential services as every other child, such as hospitals and schools, so they can reach their full potential.
  • Step 4 – Create new solutions: Deliver specialised services and opportunities that tune into the unique needs, talents and challenges of life for street children.

In Afghanistan, child labour is relatively common; in Kabul only, at least 60,000 children are estimated to be working on the street, according to UNICEF. At AfD we ultimately want the phenomenon of children having to grow up on the streets to end. Until this goal is reached, we want to ensure that street children have their rights realised as all other children might, and to ensure they have the same access to services, resources, care and opportunities that other children have.

This is the rationale behind our “School for Street Working Children” project, established in 2016, which aims at giving marginalized children in Kabul the opportunity to access semi-formal education, learn basic numeracy and literacy skills, receive a daily meal, take part in sports training and increase girls participation. Our program currently runs 3 schools in Kabul with more than 200 children enrolled, employing 5 female teachers and one program coordinator.

This year, this initiative is of particular importance given the current global health crisis, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As we prepare for months of uncertainty, street children are being hit particularly hard by this pandemic, including in Afghanistan. This is especially so in the context of self-isolation orders. Many of these children already had no access to clean water, food, healthcare and safe shelter; but, from now on, they also need to know how to keep safe when instructions to isolate and other public health measures are impossible for them to follow.

Now more than ever, it is important to provide support to children forced to live and/or work on the streets. AfD has partnered with the Global Giving Platform to raise funds for our school program and for an emergency appeal in response to the current health crisis. If you wish to donate, please click on one of the following links:

Photo Credits to: Rada Akbar

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