EGYPT: 3 million children live on the streets, study says
A recent survey by the National Center for Social & Criminological Research estimated that 3 million children are living on the streets of Egypt, state newspaper Al Ahram reported Thursday.
Social injustice during former President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule is one of the main causes behind the explosion of the street children phenomenon, according to the report. Al Ahram quotes the study as stating that crimes, violence and sexual abuse are common among street children. Fifty-six percent of the crimes committed by these youngsters are theft-related and 13.9% are related to begging.
Shantytowns, built on the outskirts of Cairo to accommodate millions of Egyptians who migrated from the Nile Delta and the south for better lives in the capital, are also a direct cause of the street children. “Slums, which contain around 11 million Egyptians struggling with poverty and dismal quality of services are strongly related to the street children problem,” wrote sociology Professor Azza Karim, who oversaw the study.
The study concluded by stating that 150,000 street children resort to abusing drugs as a way of facing violence, hunger and rough living conditions. Child homelessness has been a problem for years and has ben depicted in a number of Egyptian films depicting an unforgiving world of teenage pregnancy and the smuggling of human organs.
Media reports previously claimed that street children were recruited by members of Mubarak’s former regime to challenge the revolution and fight against demonstrators in Tahrir Square. But members of the newly formed group of activists said that many street children found safe haven and a sense of identity in the square by joining the Jan. 25 revolution.
--Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: Street children sleeping in the streets of Cairo. Credit: Dostor.org