April 12 is the World Day of Street Children. Millions of children who instead of receiving care and affection from their family, quite often live alone on the margins of a society that seems to have forgotten about them.
UNICEF defines them as minors “for whom the road represents the home and / or the main source of livelihood and which are not adequately protected or supervised”. Historically the name of street children is the translation of the Portuguese meninos de rua, one of the expressions used in Brazil to talk about the drama of poor and abandoned childhood. A phenomenon so widespread and complex to have been even “classified”: there are the meninos “na” rua (children “in the” street) and the meninos “de” rua (children “of” street).
In many countries the problem has reached frightening dimensions. In India it is estimated that there are more than 4 million street children. In 2014-2015, authorities said only in the cities of Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad there were 314,700 street children. 100,000 (including 20% girls) in Delhi.
Hundreds of thousands of children living near the bus stops, stations, markets or underground. 87% of them survive thanks to what they find or as vendor or asking for alms. The authorities seem knowing nothing about many of them: less than 20% have a proof of identity, an identity card or a birth certificate. The others are not even registered at the registry office.
Thirty years ago governments adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), . Yet, even today, for millions of street children these rights do not seem to exist: for them there is no health care or education and not even a warm place to sleep in winter. Last year, on April 12, the UN published the UN General Commentary on Street Children. On October, 74 experts from all over the world sent an open letter to the United Nations. Among the signatories the Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel who said: “I share the indications of the 74 experts because I believe it is vital to take into account the real participation of children and young people in the design and implementation of policies for children. so that their experiences are listened to. I support all the actions that can be promoted to improve the quality of life of street children and work, so that the violations of their rights can end “.
A “je accuse” of which media have spoken little. But this problem is not limited to Brazil or to poor countries. According to the UN, there are between 150 and 250 million minors all over the world. Even in Europe there are not many street children: at least 150 thousand but their number could be much greater, as he said a few years ago in an interview Reinhold Müller, ex director of the European Federation for Street Children: “It’s a really very difficult to define, given the heterogeneity of the phenomenon and the number of States involved. We have a series of data that however represent the seriousness of the problem: according to recent UNICEF estimates, for example, in Europe there are about 1,700,000 Roma children who are not registered in the registry office “.
In Romania, for example, where at least one tousend of them would live in Bucharest. Or in Moldova, where, according to official data, would be over 50,000 abandoned children. Or in Portugal, where they live hidden in the bowels of the capital, hidden between the crumbling walls of houses in ruins or underground.
Even in Italy, where, in total general indifference, there are many street children. They live far from families who have fled or have never been there. Italians and foreigners, all united by the desperation and silence of those who pretend not to see them and pay them no attention. Not even a day a year: April 12, the Day of Street Children.
Also published on Medium.