ETHIOPIA: UNICEF concerned over round-up of street children

UNICEF concerned over round-up of street children


 ADDIS ABABA, 26 Jul 2002 (IRIN) - The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed concern on Friday over claims that several hundred homeless children have been rounded up from the streets of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.


 Ibrahim Jabr, head of UNICEF in Ethiopia, is currently lobbying ministers and the judiciary over the allegations.


 “Using these means is not going to solve the problem,” he told IRIN. “These kids are going to come back. We are just providing a minute short term temporary solution which is visible but has no tangible effect.”


 Earlier this week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO) accused security forces of rounding up hundreds of street children and beggars last month and dumping them in the Gorfu forest, some 55km from Addis Ababa.


 Jabr said the fight to improve the lives of street children in Ethiopia was “on the right track”.


 “Now we have to double our efforts," he said. “Time is working against us. How can we speed up the process and instill more child friendly practices among the law and order people?”


 According to UNICEF there are some 60,000 street children in Addis Ababa alone. A quarter of them are girls who are susceptible to various kinds of abuse.


 “I don’t know of any developing country that managed to solve the problem of streetism by addressing the tail end," Jabr added. "You have to tackle the root cause.