Press release: African cities without street children, the time of action









“Women and youth suffer the most. The risk of infection from the Covid-19 virus is 50% higher,” said Rohey Malick Lowe, Mayor of Banjul (Gambia) and President of REFELA for Gambia, when speaking about the consequences of the Covid-19 virus in informal settlements.

This is proving to be true! The Covid crisis has exacerbated the situation of those who do not have a home. Such is the case for street children who cannot be confined to their homes because they have no home. In Africa there are more than 30 million street children! They live on the streets in conditions of extreme poverty unable to meet their basic needs or receive any education, begging for food and often suffering from serious health conditions. How can these children wash their hands when they have no water? How can they be expected to respect social distancing when they live together in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions?

In Nairobi, Johannesburg, Lagos, Bamako, Dakar, Cairo, and Kinshasa, one can see thousands of street children.  Statistics, when they exist, indicate a far lower number than what the reality is! This phenomenon has many causes: poverty, population displacement linked to urbanization, armed conflicts, socio-political crises, natural disasters and famine. In an increasingly urbanized and connected world with huge inequalities and terrible wars, the issue of street children is affecting an increasing number of cities in Africa, as well as in the rest of the world.

UCLG Africa and its network of locally elected women, REFELA, launched the Campaign for African Cities without Street Children in November 2018, during the Africities Summit in Marrakesh, in the presence of and with the support of Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco. More than 60 African Cities have subscribed to the campaign, whose aim is to build a common response to the issue, one which undermines social cohesion within our communities and is a real ticking time bomb that calls into question the resolution of the international community to leave no one behind, as expressed in Agenda 2030.

The Campaign of African Cities without Street Children has been met with great support. UNICEF has shown its interest together with many other international organizations and institutions. However, the campaign now needs to become a reality and to deliver a concrete response to these children who are suffering more than ever.

For this reason, UCLG Africa and REFELA call on the international community to intervene and to provide real assistance. “We need to honour the social pact of our society. The International community can no longer stand by without doing anything to help these children,” said the Secretary General of UCLG Africa, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi. “We need to support cities to finance projects and build shelters, schools, health and psychological centers for these children. We need to transform words into actions.”

Consult the Second Call for expression of Interest for the African Cities Without Street Children Campaign (+)