By Manyang Mayom
June 13, 2011 (RUMBEK) - Over 400 street children in Rumbek need to be reunited with their families, Lakes state’s minister for gender and social welfare, Arkanjelo Deng Kuok, said on Thursday June 9.
Speaking in his office in Rumbek the minister said that allowing the children to remain on the street would result in them falling into a life of crime.
Deng asked families from rural areas to come to Rumbek town, the capital of the state, to identify their children. He said that “the state government is ready to accommodate 400 street children and other children will be taken back by their relatives or uncle”.
He said that children did not chose to be living on the street but it was a result of poverty and war. For over 20 years, until 2005, South Sudan was in turmoil fighting the Khartoum government as well as factions within the region fighting each other. Two million people died and another four million displaced. The war and the previous civil war meant that Sudan’s south has had little chance to develop.
Deng said that leaving these children to loiter in Rumbek town will result in serious crimes in the years to come which will be difficult to reverse.
Dealing with street children in Rumbek market was one the main issues for his ministry Deng said. He wants to "construct a reformatory centre to take all the street children there ... to reform [them] to be a men of future of South Sudan." However, his plan has not been fulfilled and the ministry has only been able to rent a small near Rumbek market to house the children and offer them at least one a meal daily.
Lakes state government began construction of a “Child Home Foundation” for street kids on August 3, 2010 along the main road to Rumbek North County but lacked the funds to complete the building.
The ministry also wants to give the street children education and vocational training in a bid to prevent them falling into a life of crime.
“These children were affected by war. We will encourage these small kids to go to school. My apology to their parents, please come and take your child from [the] streets because this child is a property of South Sudan and we cannot leave them like that with name so called ’street children’.
"These are our children ... for them to be on streets is not their fault. It is our fault [as] parents, we their fathers and mothers and uncle. If your brother’s child is loitering there please come and take it away from street.”
Deng blamed the children’s parents for not taking care of them and not ensuring they go to school. Some street children are forced into harsh labour conditions and sexual abuse, he said.