BUJUMBURA March 17th (ABP) – The national strategy for the prevention of the phenomenon of street children in Burundi and their community reintegration, adopted by the Cabinet meeting, provides for prevention and protection measures against the exploitation of the phenomenon street children.
Those measures are based, among other things, on the fight against begging by adults, begging by children disguised as public alms, trafficking and smuggling of children. The available data therefore show that begging is strongly linked to delinquency in a street situation.
It is fed by adults who encourage children to follow in their footsteps. The penal code punishes begging. This strategy for preventing the phenomenon of street children proposes that the repression of begging must be accompanied by awareness sessions, listening and support towards community reintegration.
As for the begging of children disguised as public alms, religious morality recommends that anyone with a good heart should give alms to people in vulnerable situations, but on the contrary, article 525 of the penal code prohibits street alms or the exploitation of begging, we can read in the same strategy.
Taking advantage of that confusion of situations, delinquents make that public generosity a way of life apparently tolerated by society and which will end up attracting others to do so. Thus, that strategy recommends that religious denominations explain to their followers the undesirable effects of public alms giving, which range from begging to exploitation and even trafficking.
In the current context and especially according to the models put in place, giving alms in the street amounts to feeding a traffic circuit that only reinforces that practice of begging. That strategy therefore proposes that appropriate collection and distribution channels be organized and well-coordinated. They will have to be improved in order to ensure the empowerment of the beneficiaries.
With regard to the trafficking and trafficking of children, that strategy shows that among the children in street situations are those recruited inside the country with a view to sending them through the various urban centers for employment. Children whose promise to find work in Bujumbura has not been kept refuse to return to the interior of the country and are abandoned.
That strategy proposes that in-depth research be carried out on that subject to know the traffickers and dismantle their networks. That is “white collar crime”, which requires sophisticated approaches to achieve. The second category of child victims of trafficking includes children living with disabilities who are “sublet” by exploiters who use them in begging.