Opposition plugs initialization of National Plan for orphans/vulnerable children

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[www.inewsguyana.com] – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has called on the Government to promulgate and activate a comprehensive National Plan of Action for orphans and other vulnerable children.

The Party says it is aware that the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security had sought help from the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to design such a plan.

However, “there is no evidence that the plan is functional. Had it been implemented, it could have provided a framework for supplementary measures to protect orphans and other vulnerable children, not only street children, from all forms of abuse,” according to APNU Leader David Granger.

He said while the exact number of children living on Guyana’s streets is difficult to determine, it is believe to run into a few hundreds. This number he added includes children who live permanently or part-time on the streets having fled homes because of hardship, neglect or violence.

“The PPP/C administration thought that it could solve the problem of the growing number of street children by establishing a ‘drop-in centre’ in June 1999. The Centre was quickly overwhelmed. It discovered also that groups of vulnerable children were growing in urban areas other than Georgetown – New Amsterdam, Linden and Parika and in rural areas such as the Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, Demerara-Mahaica and East Berbice-Corentyne Regions,” Granger told reporters at the party’s weekly press briefing on Friday (December 13).

He said the ‘drop-in-centre’ approach did not address the prevalence and causation of vulnerability and proved to be inadequate to correct the problems of children living on the street and of others who were victims of violence and abuse.

Granger added that there have been credible reports that “forced labour exists in the form of forced prostitution and in logging camps and mines and that the law enforcement agencies do little to address forced labour and trafficking.”

“APNU demands that Guyana’s vulnerable children be given better protection. The result of inadequate protection has been that, especially over the last two decades, many children have been forced to live outside of homes and have become involuntary street children.”

He recommends that in tackling the issue the Administration pays attention to poverty alleviation and promote stronger family values.

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