Government resumes forceful repatriation of street children

In a letter to the Inspector General of Police John Martin, the Minister for Karamoja Affairs, John Byabagambi has ordered for the removal of street children from Kampala streets, six year after government halted a forceful repatriation of the beggar children.

Kampala Capital City Authourity (KCCA) had in 2012 started rounding up the street children but the operation was halted following a hastily convened meeting by the then Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Janet Kataha Museveni.

The March 28, 2012 meeting stopped the operation because construction of reception centres at Masuulita in Wakiso district and Koblin in Moroto district hadn’t been completed.

In his letter, Byabagambi stated that, with the completion of the two reception centres, KCCA and Police can resume the operation to rid the city of the street children.

A copy of Byabagambi’s letter to the IGP.

“I am happy to inform you that these rehabilitation centers are now ready and with all the required facilities to receive these children” Byagagambi said.

“The purpose of this letter is to direct you to resume the operations and have these children repatriated back to Karamoja subregion and be reunited with their families,” Byabagambi further wrote.

There is an estimated 10,000 beggar children on Kampala streets, some of them as young as two which forced the ministry for Karamoja Affairs had launched the, “back to home campaign for Karamoja Children.”

The majority of the beggar children are said to be Karamojong who are innocently deployed by their parents to beg.

Byabagambi’s directive came around the same time when the minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi announced that the task force on street children had resolved to work with KCCA and Police to immediately launch an operation to withdraw children from the streets.

The agencies are to also maintain permanent presence on the streets to manage new cases.

There have been similar efforts since 2007 but government has always come under criticism with critics arguing that resettling the children without addressing the issues that force them onto the streets to beg is inappropriate.