Stand With Children in Street Situations Around the World
Between April 6th and 12th, organisations around the world will be recognising International Day for Street Children: a special day acknowledging the strength and resilience of millions of street children around the world. The pandemic has highlighted how street-connected children are too often excluded from accessing essential services such as healthcare, education, and access to justice.
International Day for Street Children has been celebrated globally since 2012, to recognise the humanity, dignity and defiance of street children in the face of unimaginable hardships. We want to rally governments and individuals worldwide to work together to ensure their rights are protected no matter who they are and where they live, even more so in the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are millions of children in the world whose lives are inextricably connected with public spaces: streets, buildings, and shopping centers, etc. Some of these children will live on the streets, sleeping in parks, doorways or bus shelters. Others may have homes to go back to, but they rely on the streets for survival and sustenance. They may be referred to as ‘street children’, ‘street-connected children’, ‘homeless children’ or ‘homeless youth’. Also – at times – they may be described in more negative terms such as ‘beggars’, ‘juvenile delinquents’ and ‘thieves’. Labels that judge a child in this way disguise the fact that these vulnerable children are owed the care, protection, and above all, respect due to all children.
“When children are not cared for we – governments and individuals – have all let them down. It is extraordinary that street children have been left so far behind for so long. Extraordinary – and indefensible. It is as if they are invisible to the conscience of the world.” The Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH.
This is why, every year on 12th April we celebrate the lives of street children and highlight the efforts to have their rights respected and their needs met in a caring and respectful manner. After the success of celebrating the lead up to the week last year, as members of the CSC Network, SASCU will hold the campaign from 6-12th April this year.
IDSC 2021 – Access to Essential Services
The 4 Steps to Equality is based on the UN General Comment on Children in Street Situations, breaking it into four actionable steps:
Commit to Equality
Protect Every Child
Provide Access to Services
Create Specialised Solutions
In 2021, we concentrate on Step 3: Provide Access to Services. We call on Governments to take action so that street children can access the services they need to reach their full potential.
Stand Together With us to Make Access for Street Children a Reality.
Our theme for the 2021 campaign is Access to Essential Services – an issue that has become even more pressing during the COVID-19 pandemic as street-connected children and homeless youth around the world struggle to access services that they are routinely denied. For many, drop-in centres and mobile clinics that they relied on are closing down, they cannot access emergency services such as food parcels as they are not registered, and for those who have homes that they can return to, it may mean returning to an unsafe environment where they are subjected to violence and abuse.Not only are children in street situations among the most vulnerable children on the planet – deprived of access to basic services like education and healthcare and disproportionately targeted by violence – but they are now even more at risk of being excluded as the world begins to navigate a recovery from the pandemic.
Ask your government to ensure street children can access essential services
Governments must ensure that street-connected children can access essential services, including education, child protection and healthcare during the pandemic when access is already restricted.Governments must include them in schemes and emergency funding that have been put in place in their country, including specific provisions for street children such as hand washing stations and food outreach programmes. Governments must also allow social workers to continue street outreach work during restrictions to make sure that children are able to access vital support and information from a trusted adult.Governments must prioritise investment in access to essential services for street children as they navigate recovery from the pandemic.Governments must provide information and advice that is easy to access and understand for street-connected children and homeless youth, including those with limited or no ability to read.
Children in Street Situations Have Rights
Just like all children, street children have rights enshrined in The Child Rights Convention, which has near universal ratification and support. In 2017, the United Nations have specifically acknowledged these children’s rights in a document called the General Comment (No.21) on Children in Street Situations.
On the International Day for Children in Street Situations (CSS), Civil Society Organisations submitted a joint statement titled “Enhancing Access to Essential Services for Children in Street Situations in Uganda” and a letter to Government through the Permanent secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development.
To reduce the prevalence and predicament of CSS there is need to holistically address pull and push factors, through;
The Prioritisation of Registration of CSS by ensuring obstacles hindering access to identification & other essential documents are removed to enhance access to services; and
The prioritization of Child Friendly Protection rather than punishment of CSS. Read more here