Erias Lukwago Urges Gov’t to Address Alarming Rise in Child Trafficking

Erias Lukwago Urges Gov’t to Address Alarming Rise in Child Trafficking

Erias Lukwago (the Kampala City Lord Mayor) has urged the government to boost the fight against child trafficking in Uganda.

During the Celebrations of International Day of Street Children, Lukwago stated that children are not on the streets to beg but have been trafficked to the streets for the advantage of others.

According to Lukwago, powerful individuals in government are behind the trafficking of children to the streets, which explains why the flood has persisted.

Erias Lukwago (the Kampala City Lord Mayor

A 2018 list survey of street children by Retrak Uganda in collaboration with the Gender Ministry and Uganda Bureau of Statistics (Ubos) found that there were 2,661 children aged between 7 to 17 who were living on the streets of Kampala.

The Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, the Police Force, and the Kampala Capital City Authority-KCCA often carry out rescue operations where children are taken off the streets and sent to a rehabilitation centre before being reunited with their families. Naguru detention home in Kampala, Kampiringisa Rehabilitation Centre in Mpigi county, and Koblin Youth Center in Napak district are among the facilities.

However, the operations have not reduced the number of children on the streets, and some frequent return, while others are introduced to the streets.

According to Lukwago, influential person profit from unlawful trade. Timothy Opobo, Executive Director of Makerere University’s Africhild Centre, has urged for a thorough examination into the issue of street children. He saw that the bulk of the youngsters on the streets is from Karamoja, indicating a problem in that region.

Aside from the challenge’s relapses, there are insufficient facilities to rehabilitate the rescued youngsters. For example, the Lord Mayor claims that KCCA has been transporting rescued children to Koblin rather than Naguru and Kampiringisa due to the poor amenities at the two institutions.

KCCA Workers carrying a young child who got stuck on the streets of Kampala

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Koblin was established mainly as a youth development center for about 80 teenagers, but it is currently compelled to house more than 100 rescued youngsters. Other children are sent to Masulita Children’s Home in Wakiso district with the assistance of Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans (UWESO).

According to Lukwago, the government should fulfil its mission under the Children Act by establishing a National Rehabilitation Centre for Children and other facilities for the incarceration, rehabilitation, and retraining of children. According to Lukwago, the government has delegated much of the duties relating to street children to KCCA, despite their low competence.

While KCCA is the most prominent organization working with children on Kampala’s streets, it lacks the resources needed to rescue and rehabilitate children. Deputy Lord Mayor Doreen Nyanjura expressed disappointment during the recent debate of the 2023/2024 KCCA budget framework document that no funding had been provided to the Directorate of Gender to deal with the concerns of street children.

Youngsters begging for food on the streets of Kampala

KCCA frequently collaborates with civil society organizations to rescue and rehabilitate children from Kampala’s streets. According to KCCA, the authority was helped in its January 2023 operation by three local NGOs working under the Local Coalition Accelerator project.

The NGOs contributed 720 gallons of gasoline for the bus, coaster, and pickup; lunches for the children while on the journey; and assistance to the rescue squad.

Since 2012, the International Day for Street Children (IDSC) has been observed across the world to highlight the humanity, dignity, and resistance of street children in the face of incredible adversity. It is being observed under the topic “keeping street-connected children safe” this year.

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