Street Children Crisis Fuels Fears of Increased Organised Crime in Uganda

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Human rights activists have warned the country that it is likely to see an increase in violent crime linked to organised groups if the challenge of street children is not addressed.

According to the Country Director of Child Fund International, Moses Otai, this creates fertile ground for the growth of criminal gangs in Uganda.

“The number of children in Kampala and other cities is increasing, with no plans to rehabilitate them,” Otai said.

He added that the lack of rehabilitation programmes for street children is attracting the wrong attention from the likes of criminal gangs, which recognise the desperation and vulnerability of these children, stating that they are an easy target for recruits for criminal activities in society.

The country director of Child Fund Uganda asked Members of Parliament to allocate budgeting for children’s issues in Uganda’s comprehensive policy and planning frameworks to help fight the rising issue of street children.

“By empowering them, we not only secure their individual futures but also safeguard the collective future of Uganda from the looming shadow of organised crime,” Otai stated.

Uganda has one of the world’s youngest populations, with 56% of the total population under 18 years old and approximately 49% under the age of 15 (UNICEF 2019).

This population structure demonstrates the urgent need for deliberate and increased investment in child protection.

The Kampala Capital City Child Protection Ordinance 2022 criminalises loitering in public places, begging or soliciting, vending or hawking, and the sale of alcohol and drugs to children.

According to Child Fund International, Uganda’s future centres on the well-being of its youth, so it should not ignore the rising number of street children.

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