An NGO, Young Ambassadors Against Drug Abuse Initiative (YAADAI), says neglect of street children has contributed to challenges affecting the peace and security of the nation.
The Coordinator of the organisation, Saifullahi Khalil-Usman, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday, on the occasion of the 2021 World Day Against Child Labour.
World Day Against Child Labour is globally celebrated every June 12 to raise awareness about the ills of child labour and take care of children.
According to a recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UNICEF, the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide, with an increase of 8.4 million in the last four years.
Khalil-Usman said street children and homeless people especially girls remained among the most invisible members of the world’s population, as they were often neglected.
He added that these had forced underage children to source for their means of livelihood by engaging in trades that exposed them to vices.
He added that “while street children are being neglected, the negative consequences cannot be overlooked, thus, Africa has its own fair share of children, especially the underage, roaming the streets.
“The consequence has been the swelling number of child soldiers in the camps of terrorists, bandits, separatists and organised armed criminal gangs.
“The child soldier syndrome in Charles Taylor’s camp during the Liberian civil war and the child soldiers in Boko Haram camps are all fresh in our memories.”
According to him, given the negative impacts from neglect of street children, it is necessary to enforce state policies and laws in African countries to protect the children.
“These children must be protected from neglect, abuse, trafficking, commercial sex, drugs and to increase their access to education and health,” he said.
He noted that the organisation, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was committed to tackling and raising awareness on the use of illicit drugs by youths and children, especially those on the streets.
He said YAADAI was compelled to inaugurate Street Children Parliament to enable the voices of these children reach relevant authorities, with consequence positive results in their lives.
“I was seriously touched when I discovered that street children are not part of the Children’s Parliament, a platform meant for children to have their voices heard.
“So, one may ask rather rhetorically, are they not Nigerian children? So now, we can say without contradiction that because they are on the streets, and their voices are lost, their future seem hopeless.”
The coordinator explained that the organisation introduced a 30-minute magazine programme on street children aired on the network service of Radio Nigeria to unravel the conditions of the Nigerian child, with a view to proffering solution to the situation.
He, therefore, stressed the need for sustainable programmes to address the challenge of street children by providing food, clothing, shelter, health services and access to education. (NAN)
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