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Ministry criminalises giving of handouts to street children

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Kampala: You could be arrested for giving that street kid money or any item of material sympathy while on the road if the law from ministry of Gender comes into force.

This is because, according to the Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, begging has been commercialized by self-seeking people who parade vulnerable emaciated kids along the streets and eke a buck off their staged misery.

“The commercialization of begging, which includes trafficking of children from Karamoja to beg on the urban streets for personal benefits, still remains a big hindrance to realizing the intended results in the handling of street children. There are adults who live off the money collected by the children,” she noted.

She thus called up on the public to desist from giving handouts to street children.

“Although at face value, such assistance helps the children to meet some basic needs, it has proved to be the most important in exacerbating the problem by reinforcing the factors that pull children to the streets. Arising from the above, the Task Force on Street Children has resolved as follows: KCCA working with Police will immediately launch an operation to withdraw children from the streets and maintain permanent presence on the streets to manage new cases.

“The children withdrawn from the streets will be taken to designated Children Homes. In the meantime, members of the public who wish to support them are encouraged to do so from those homes or at the point of their re-integration to their respective communities,” she said at a press briefing at the ministry offices over the weekend.

“The MGLSD will work closely with the KCCA, MICT-NG and MFPED to device mechanisms of engaging the public to contribute to the welfare of the affected children. Members of the public are accordingly advised to desist from giving handouts to street children on the streets, as this has proved more disastrous to the children. The MGLSD is working on a law to reinforce this,” she further added.

She also said the ministry has is aware of the proliferation of illegal children homes, most of which have been involved in abuse of children rights for selfish gain.

“A number of them are conduits for child trafficking, while others have turned into business enterprises to siphon money from unsuspecting and well-meaning donors at the expense of the Ugandan children. Our recent survey has revealed that only 70 Children Homes across the Country are operating with valid licences, while 569 Children Homes are operating illegally,” she said.

She ordered the illegal homes to close by 30 June.

“All illegal Children Homes have been given up to 30th June 2018 to close their operations or risk drastic action. All Chief Administrative Officers and Resident District Commissioners are asked to ensure that the above instruction is implemented without exception.

All stakeholders, including the Police, are urged to take note of the above requirements regarding placement or admission of children in any children home,” she said.

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