Government through the Department of Social Welfare in the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare says it will soon start removing children in the country’s streets.
Dominick Misomali, Social Welfare Officer in the Ministry said the increased number of street children is worrisome hence in the 2017/18 financial year, the ministry plans to among others things, conduct massive re-integration campaigns that will see all children being removed from the streets.
“Yes, we will have street child campaigns this year and the exercises will start with cities, municipalities and end with town councils,” he said.
Misomali said the ministry would use the Child Care Protection and Justice Act of 2010 to punish parents who let their children to freely roam around in towns and beg for alms.
“We are aware that some parents send their children to beg in the streets; this time around, such parents will be prosecuted in accordance with the Child Care Protection and Justice Act,” he warned.
Recently, Lucy Bandazi, Public Relations Officer for the Gender Ministry said it is the government’s wish to promote interventions that prevent children from going into the streets through among other things, strengthening rehabilitation services, enhancing the protection of children living and working in the streets and conducting outreach programs with the children.
Bandazi also said the ministry has adopted the case management approach where children are followed up to know where they are coming from and the circumstances leading to their being on the streets.
However, Bandazi cited the lack of resources as one of the major challenges the ministry faces in carrying out its activities.
Meanwhile, the Gender Ministry is appealing to all Malawians to desist from giving alms to street children saying the act encourages them to remain on the streets.
“The laws of Malawi clearly state that anyone giving alms to a beggar breaks the law; anyone found begging on the streets breaks the law, and anyone sending a child or another person to beg breaks the law.
“The ministry would like to notify the public that laws that were put in place to protect children and safeguard their rights will be used on anyone found violating them,” Bandazi explained.
Records indicate that there are about 4,500 children living and working in the streets of Malawi out of which 400 are genuine orphans who are homeless.