Some Street children have appealed to the Federal Government and other stakeholders to ensure equality, social inclusion and improved access to essential services for their self-development.
The call was made during a symposium organised by the Young Ambassadors Against Drug Initiative (YAADAI) in commemoration of the 2021 International Street Children Day in Abuja.
10-year-old Ibrahim Mohammed said the loss of his father some years back forced him to venture into pure water hawking to support his mother in catering for his siblings.
Mohammed who said he relies on the streets for survival and sustenance, appealed to the government to assist him access formal education and an alternative source of income to enable him become a responsible citizen.
Similarly, a 15 year-old orphan, Hamza Ibrahim, said he usually sleep with his younger siblings in a make-shift hut on the street of Dei-dei, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
According to him, he earns a living by shepherding goats to abattoirs on a daily basis to generate money to feed himself and his younger siblings.
He said, having access to services, resources, care and opportunities will enable them integrate well in the society and have legitimate means of earning income free from crime.
National Coordinator, YAADAI Hajiya Zainab Khalil said the essence of the symposium was to bring into limelight the challenges affecting children living on the streets and proffer solutions to the menace.
She said the rights of street children were been violated and ignored by the relevant authorities, which had contributed inadequate access to basic social amenities and noted that the programme “Street Children’’ on Radio Nigeria was a concept of YAADAI, bringing children and stakeholders to proffer solutions affecting such vulnerable children.
She revealed that through the programme, street children were rehabilitated and provided with homes, while those guilty of sexually molesting children were prosecuted according to the law.
Director-General, Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), Dr Mansur Liman represented by the Director Programmes, Msurshima Kighir attributed the effects of street children to increase crime rates, drug and substance abuse and other negative vices.
National Project Officer, Law Enforcement, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Dr Femi Ajayi attributed increasing cases of drug abuse, terrorism, banditry and vices to the number of children neglected on the streets.
He therefore stressed the need for the government to put more efforts in curtailing the situation by implementing policies that will eliminate street children and provide them access to education and other basic amenities.
Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen represented by Assistant Director, Child Development, Mr Ali Andrew-Magudu said the ministry was working towards ensuring the passage and implementation of the Child Rights Acts in all the states of the nation.
She added that a technical working group had been inaugurated to upgrade the alternative care system to complement the services of foster homes and orphanages
The theme for International Street Children Day 2021 is “Mental Health, Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), Right Expression and Social Inclusion”