In the last seven days, the City of Kigali in partnership with the police, Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion and National Children Commission, has been taking street children to designated places where they are screened for Covid-19 and other health problems before being reintegrated into their families.
Mutoni Gatsinzi Nadine, the Vice Mayor of City of Kigali in charge of Socio-economic Affairs said that since the initiative began on March 20, a total of 744 children have been taken off the street; 484 of them rejoined with their families while others were taken to rehabilitation centers. There are 53 children from upcountry while 25 have no families.
Some families being economically hit by the pandemic, closure of schools and domestic violence are part of the reasons why the number of street children has increased.
“Street children and beggars are at risk of catching Covid-19 from the streets. We call upon the public to help us curb the spread of this virus by not giving money to beggars because that might lead to an increase in the spread of Covid-19,” Mutoni said.
she noted that if people need help or want to help, local leaders will facilitate the process. There are safe channels to help people.
According to the Vice Mayor, one of the main reasons that there has been an increase in children taking to the streets is not poverty but irresponsible parenting. When integrating children with their families they sign an agreement that they will protect them from joining the streets again.
“In most cases, irresponsible parents are the main reason for children to go to the streets. When the agreement is breached, there are penalties in place," she explained.