Mr Ken Henshaw, Executive Director of the NGO, also known as ‘We the People’, made the appeal in a presentation during a seminar recently in Calabar.
Henshaw in the presentation titled, ”Left to Die: Forgotten Street Children of Calabar,” said that the protection which these frameworks offered for children have turned out to be practically ineffectual at best and non existent at worse in protecting them.
He lamented that in spite domesticating the Child Rights Act, the state government has turned a blind eye to the plight of street children.
“In Cross River, the degrading conditions children are exposed to remain unchecked.
”The phenomenon of street children continues because of the weakness or unwillingness of government to implement its own laws,” the NGO boss said.
He further said his team’s investigations indicated that street children were exposed to untold hardship, hunger, sexual exploitation, drug abuse, prostitution, health hazards and untimely deaths from ritualists.
The director said it was regrettable that government allowed the challenge to fester as the children now grow to hate the society and therefore constitute themselves into nuisances.
He noted that government approach had been punitive instead of rehabilitative.
According to him, the failure of government to implement the Child Rights law and punish offenders accordingly has contributed to increase in number of street children.
In her remarks, Mrs Dodeye Bassey, one of the four-man discussants who spoke on the way forward, said the problem could be tackled if government prioritised the welfare of street children.
Bassey said that if 20 per cent of the Child Rights law was implemented, the issue would gradually come to an end.
Also, Mrs Pamela Braides, member of the Civil Society Organisation in the state, called for the establishment of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) office in Calabar to checkmate issues of child abuse.
She also appealed to the state government to save the abandoned street children of Calabar.
Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)
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