“A child-a roof, far from being reality in Burundi” says activist

The number of street children in different cities of Burundi grows day by day. Children’s rights activist asks for the government’s collaboration to improve their living conditions.

Street children’s housing

Street children’s housing

The study conducted by Burundi Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies-ISTEEBU shows that 3253 children were living on the streets in the cities of Bujumbura, Ngozi and Gitega in 2013.

Jacques Nshimirimana, Chairman of the National Federation of Associations Engaged in Children’s Welfare (FENADEB), says the number may have doubled. “If one sees the daily growing number of children living on the streets, the dream of a child-a roof is far from being a reality in Burundi,” he says.

Some street children told Iwacu they were obliged to live on the streets because they had no other choice. Alexis, one of them, says he came to live on the street because he had nowhere to go. “. I used to live with my mother as my father had abandoned us. When she decided to marry another husband, I joined the street and life became hard”, he says.

For Alexis and other children living on the street, life is a struggle. They say the police sometimes make their life more difficult. “They arrest us and afterwards incarcerate us for the whole day. We are released when they realize that we are about to die of hunger” says another child.

Those children say they are not happy with the life they are leading, “If I get an association or someone who can adopt me, I will leave the street life. We live in precarious conditions and we are exposed to police and thieves’ violence,” says another child.

Mr Nshimirimana says FENADEB acknowledges the government’s policy to remove all children from the streets. He, however, discourages the police brutality towards those children.

He says Non-Governmental Organizations are doing their best to collaborate with the government in order to peacefully remove children from the streets and integrate them in the community.

Iwacu tried to get the government’s reaction on the street children situation in Burundi but to no avail.

On the 20th of November each year, the world celebrates the Children’s Day; it was celebrated under the theme: “A child-a roof”.