19 February 2013

Egypt: NGOs Honour Street Children Under Theme of Social Responsibility

Egypt's Coalition for Child Rights (ECCR) and the Egyptian network of organizations working with street children called on Tuesday for commemorating the National Day of Solidarity with Street Children which occurs on February 23.

Civil society organizations and Political Parties announced their participation in the day which takes place under the theme "Children in the street, responsibility of society".

"Society deals with street children as if they are criminals, not victims of social and economic policies practiced by successive governments leading to the amplification of this phenomenon in Egypt," said a statement by ECCR.

"The government and society have the responsibility to defend and protect street children from all the forms of abuses that they are exposed to on a daily basis," the statement continued pointing to, "attempts to involve them in the political events and hold them liable because of the government's inability to capture the real perpetrators of violence."

The coalition condemned remarks made by the Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekki on a TV program, where he accused street children of being responsible for all setbacks, describing them as "sons of the Tourbini". Ramadan Abdel Rehim Mansour, better known as al-Tourbini was known for sexually abusing dozens of street children.

The statement also rejected what a security source said on the event of capturing 354 minors from different areas in Cairo, accusing them of attacking security forces and the presidential palaces and being hired to attack the security forces with stones and petrol bombs.

The statement added that such remarks instigate violence and counter-violence towards a vulnerable segment of children that suffered and continues to suffer from injustice, social marginalization and political exploitation.

It stressed that these proclamations set more obstacles before civil society as they try to work on earning the trust of street children and integrating them into their families and society.

ECCR urged for investigating these recurring remarks against street children, pointing out that the children cannot defend themselves, saying, "These statements are issued by responsible officials who belong to the ruling regime."

Meanwhile, The UNICEF Representative in Egypt, Philippe Duamelle, said "UNICEF is following with great concern the effects on children of the latest violent incidents. Children should not be victim nor witness of violence and their rights should be respected under any circumstances. When children are arrested they must be protected according to the National Child Law. They must not be mistreated nor detained with adults and their rights to legal assistance must be fully secured".

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