CAIRO: “I want to be a doctor”, a nine-year-old child said in the World Day of Children Rights; a wish that raises questions on the government’s duty to make his dream comes true amid increasing number of street children and child labor.
“I want to complete my education and have a certificate in order not to be in the street,” Kareem Essam, an Egyptian boy helps his grandmother, who is a street vendor in Giza’s district of Dokki, told The Cairo Post Thursday.
“I want a good life, for example playing with my friends, going out, etc..,” he continued, noting that he usually work on his homework while helping his grandmother.
U.S. 2015 annual report on Trafficking in Persons in November stated that between 200,000 to one million of Egyptian children are vulnerable to “sex trafficking and forced labor in domestic service, begging, and agricultural work.”
“I dream to be a policeman to arrest the thieves,” another wish articulated by Islam, who did not give further details on himself in order to not be identified by his family; Islam sells gums for passengers inside Cairo metro, without the knowledge of his family.
“There are thieves in the metro, so I want to be a policeman to arrest them,” he added, putting up a question on being one of the policemen although he could be arrested by them over illegally selling inside metro stations. “There are good policemen as there are others bad,” he added.
Islam is one of the children who are vulnerable for policemen’s detention in the metro. Several months ago, a group of children told The Cairo Post that policemen arrested them over charges of “beggary” and referred them to juvenile body where their parents got them back home them before they went to the streets again.
Children represent 36.6 percent of the Egyptian population (around 90 million people) as of mid-2015, according to state-owned Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) issued Thursday.
Former head of Information and Decision Support Center of the Cabinet announced on May 9, 2013 that according to UNICEF statistics, the number of street children reached two million, Al-Dostor Newspaper reported.
“This phenomena (street children) is dramatically increasing amid a failure of government performance to tackle it…it is one of neglected issues in the country,” Nasser Amin, a member from the National Council of Human Rights, told The Cairo Post Saturday.
In January, the Ministry of Social Solidarity issued a report stating that the total number of street children is estimated at 16,000; however, the National Council of Motherhood and Childhood said such figure is “inaccurate, as no institution can count their number.”
Egypt is one of the African countries in which child labor is increasing; the World Food Program and the European Union in a September report estimated the current number of employed minors in Egypt to be at least 2.7 million.
In 2010, approximately 1.6 million children were actively working in Egypt, according to a comprehensive survey conducted by the CAPMAS and the International Labor Organization (ILO).