NATIONAL NEWS

Street connected Children to be evacuated in streets

Tione Andiseni – Mana.

Government has re-affirmed its desire to make sure that all street connected children are evacuated from the main streets of the country.

Minister of Gender, Disability and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati disclosed this Wednesday during a Press Conference on weighing up risks of School closure and reopening under Covid-19, When, Why, and What impacts at World Vision Malawi (WVM) Offices in Lilongwe.

She said the Ministry would make sure that all street connected children are evacuated from the street by August 31, 2020.

“Officials from my Ministry will from August 20, 2020 be conducting routine checks to see where most the street connected children are operating within the main streets of the country,” Kaliati said.

The Minister said the street connected children need to be moved back to their respective homes to protect them from Covid-19 which was on the rise in the country.

“Some quarters were suggesting that we should be providing masks to the Street connected Children to protect them. To us, that suggest was not appropriate to be considered as a result, we may encourage a lot of them to flood the streets,” she added.

Kaliati said government believes street connected children need to be integrated into their families, communities and that they should go back to school.

“Some are of age, they can be encouraged to go for vocational training in order to acquire certain skills that could enable them earning a living without solely depend on alms in the streets,” the Minister pointed out.

She said government wants to use Cash Transfer Programme to help integrate the street connected children with their families and communities.

“We will be using e-payment system in order to provide the affected families in order to help the children. We will be working with block leaders, parents, guardians and chiefs to ensure proper implementation of the programmes,” Kaliati added.

The Minister cited Cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba have large numbers of street connected children which need urgent attention in order to lessen their plight. 

United Nations Office of Drug and Crimes (UNODC) Programme Officer, Maxwell Matewere has commended government for showing interest to implement the initiative 

He said the plight of street connected children could not be overemphasized and measure should be put in place in order to address their challenges.    

“There was need to work systematically because with the closure of schools due to Covid-19, the numbers of street connected children has increased.  We need to understand the current situation, “Matewere pointed out. 

The Programme Officer said the implementation of the initiative should be linked to National Response on Covid-19.

He said the provision of supplementary food at the community level as it was being done in the school feeding programme in order to retain more children within the communities.

According to 2017 report on street connected children survey, Blantyre had 1,800, Lilongwe had 1,200 and Mzuzu had 600.

Mana/tha

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