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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                             

The Central African Republic

Subsistence agriculture, together with forestry, remains the backbone of the economy of the Central African Republic (CAR), with more than 70% of the population living in outlying areas. The agricultural sector generates more than half of GDP.

Distribution of income is extraordinarily unequal. Grants from France and the international community can only partially meet humanitarian needs.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: CentralAfricanRep

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the Central African Republic.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


A Sad Show of Hands

Posted August 1, 2007 by Richard Jacquot, Mercy Corps

[accessed 28 April 2011]

VISIBLE SIGNS OF CRISIS - The HIV/AIDS epidemic is only worsening the country's already deep, endemic poverty. Among the population, opportunities are rare due to the disappearance of businesses that did not survive the last ten years of instability and fighting. There are entire households of HIV/AIDS orphans with no assistance of any kind, because they have been stigmatized and rejected by their extended families. There is also a noticeable decline of people between the ages of 30 and 45, who are dying from HIV/AIDS at an alarming rate.

Poor families - including those living with HIV/AIDS - are unable to keep their children at home and the number of street children is rising, particularly in Bangui. One cannot walk even a short distance in town without being asked for some change by children. There is only one center for street children in the whole capital city; as a result, most children are left in the streets of Bangui to the mercy of passersby.

According to one international organization there are 5,320 orphans in Bangui alone, and recent media reports indicate more than 3,000 children sleeping on the streets of Bangui each night.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 28 January 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - In the capital of Bangui, street children are engaged in begging.

[891] In the weeks preceding the 2003 coup, for example, many street children were enrolled in security forces to repel the rebellion. Provided with only a few days of training, many of these children were killed in battle.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 7 February 2020]

CHILDREN - The government spent little money on programs for children, and churches and NGOs had relatively few programs for youths. Following the 2003 coup, approximately three-quarters of the country's schools were destroyed, although UNICEF has since assisted the government in rebuilding some primary schools in the southwest region of the country. The failure of the education system, caused by a meager budget and salary arrears, resulted in a shortage of teachers and an increase in the number of street children.

There were approximately 6 thousand street children between the ages of 5 and 18 residing in the country, including 3 thousand in Bangui. Many experts believed that HIV/AIDS and a belief in sorcery, particularly in rural areas, contributed to the large number of street children. An estimated 110 thousand children have lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS, and children accused of sorcery (often reportedly in relation to HIV/AIDS-related deaths in their neighborhoods) were often expelled from their households. Many street children begged and stole; several charitable organizations provided them with humanitarian assistance.  There were some NGOs specifically promoting children's rights, including some which dealt with street children

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] Throughout the country, children as young as seven years old frequently performed agricultural work, often with their parents, during the year. In addition, children often worked as domestic workers, fishermen, and in mines (often in dangerous conditions). An international agency reported that children worked in the diamond fields alongside adult relatives. In Bangui, many of the city's 3 thousand street children worked as street vendors.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 October 2000

[accessed 28 January 2011]

[74] The Committee is concerned at the situation of some refugee children who are obliged to beg for food and money on city streets.

[75] Noting the State party's considerable efforts to welcome refugees from neighboring countries, the Committee recommends that the State party continue to assist child refugees and their families and to maintain its cooperation with UNHCR, making particular efforts to assist refugee children who are living or working on the streets.

Voix du Coeur Centre provides a safe haven for Bangui’s street children

Emily Bamford, United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, Bangui, Central African Republic, 10 October 2007

[accessed 28 April 2011]

Life on the street is tough and forces children to grow up fast. Many youths support dependents, in the form of either siblings or younger children. Food, medical care and schooling are difficult to obtain, if not impossible.  The poverty and stigma surrounding such children means many are turned away from schools and hospitals. Deprived of their right to health and education, these children face future prospects that remain bleak.

Central African Republic: Teaching street children about HIV

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN PlusNews, Bangui, 28 December 2006

[accessed 10 March 2015]

"I saw many of my friends die of AIDS - they did not know where to go for treatment because they were street children," said Bienvenu Samba, 25, who has spent 11 years living on the streets. "Many of them were HIV-positive or had sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), like gonorrhoea or syphilis."

The Central African Republic, ravaged by years of civil conflict, is one of the poorest countries in the world, and the United Nations has estimated that 10.7 percent of the country's approximately four million inhabitants are HIV-infected.

According to a 2005 survey by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), about 3,000 children were living on the streets of Bangui, of whom half had lost a parent and more than half were aged between 10 and 14.

UNICEF Executive Board President Andrei Dapkiunas visits the Central African Republic

Sabine Dolan, United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, New York, 10 March 2006

[accessed 28 April 2011]

POVERTY AND CONFLICT - Around 20 per cent of children die before the age of five.  Only 30 to 35 per cent of girls attend primary school.  Less than 30 per cent of children are immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases.  The HIV prevalence rate is at 13.5 per cent, the highest in the region, resulting in a rise in the number of orphans and vulnerable children, including 6,000 street children.

Building a future for street children in the Central African Republic

Yves Willemot, United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, Bangui, 27 June 2006

[accessed 28 April 2011]

"I want to be teacher and help children so that they don't end up in the street like I did," he said.

Mr. Yoongo began living on the street when he was 14, following the death of his father. The excitement of being free and able to decide where to go to and what to do disappeared quickly as he faced hunger and violence.

UNICEF Humanitarian Action: Central African Republic Donor Update 18 May 2006

[accessed 28 April 2011]

ISSUES FOR CHILDREN - HIV prevalence is estimated at more than 15 per cent, the highest in the Central African region, resulting in an increasing number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) affected by HIV/AIDS, including 110,000 AIDS orphans and more than 6,000 OVC living in the streets. As a result of these conditions, the population in CAR has lost 6 months of life expectancy every year since 1988.

Consortium for Street Children

Consortium for Street Children, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 28 April 2011]

They hang around in small groups that, despite the tribal divisions of wider society, are composed in relation to territory rather than ethnicity or religion. They have their own jargon and values, and can mostly be found around car wash stations, marketplaces and other public spaces. According to a study conducted by UNICEF in 1999, the population of street children is characterized by its youth – 43% are less than 15 years old, and one third of these are orphans due to HIV/AIDS.

Crime & Society -  Comparative Criminology tour of the World - Central African Republic

Dr. Robert Winslow, San Diego State University, A Comparative Criminology Tour of the World

[accessed 28 January 2011]

CHILDREN - Although there is no official discrimination against children, the Government spends little money on programs for them. Churches and NGO's have relatively few programs for youths. The failure of the education system, caused by a meager budget and salary arrears, has resulted in a shortage of teachers and an increase in street children. Education is compulsory from ages 6 to 14; however, parents rarely are prosecuted for their children's nonattendance.

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Heartless Stone by Tom Zoellner

Tom Zoellner, The Heartless Stone Excerpt, 2008

[accessed 28 April 2011]

Children drunk on glue wander the filthy core of Bangui in broken flip-flops, begging for francs. Their T-shirts from Western aid agencies are often dotted with gummy clots; this is where they have smeared the glue to huff through the cloth. Shoe polish is another favorite intoxicant—it is spread on bread like jelly and eaten for a high. Still others take a stolen audiotape and soak it in a jar of water for a week. The resulting home brew brings strange hallucinations. Some of the street children will grab their crotches when they approach new faces for coins. Trading sex for money is common here, despite a national rate of AIDS infection estimated at one in every seven persons. “It’s not always for money,” a French schoolteacher told me. “Children need affection, to be touched is instinctual, and this is the only way a lot of them can get it.”

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