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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                                                                          

Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan)

Kyrgyzstan is a poor, mountainous country with a predominantly agricultural economy. Cotton, tobacco, wool, and meat are the main agricultural products, although only tobacco and cotton are exported in any quantity. Industrial exports include gold, mercury, uranium, natural gas, and electricity.

The government and international financial institutions have been engaged in a comprehensive medium-term poverty reduction and economic growth strategy.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the Kyrgyz 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.


V. Family Environment And Alternative Care [DOC]

Committee on the Rights of the Child CRC -- NGO Commentaries to the Initial Report of the Kyrgyz Republic on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, January 03, 2000

[accessed 12 June 2011]

[page 13]

g) CHILDREN DEPRIVED OF FAMILY ENVIRONMENT - There are 600-800 street children in Bishkek.  The main reasons are alcoholism of parents, poverty, abuse and home violence.  Street children are excluded from education.  They work at bazaars, petrol stations or commit petty theft, pocket stealing, car robbery, quite often they are doing it under leadership of adults.  They are often arrested by militia, beaten and humiliated, have to give bribes to get free.  Many street children live in the town heating systems, abandoned buildings, etc.  In some towns (Bishkek, Kara-Balta) the shelters run by NGOs for such children can accept only a limited number of children.

Dire needs of Central Asia's street children

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies IFRC, 19 February 2007

[accessed 10 June 2011]

In his military uniform, Aklimomun Esenovich cuts an unlikely figure as a director of a children's home. But as an employee of the Ministry of Interior, he is charged with running one of Kyrgyzstan's two "collection centres", where the authorities hold children found on the streets for 30 days, before either reuniting them with their families or sending them to a state orphanage.

However, with a budget of one dollar a day, he is struggling to feed and clothe the children. The centre in the capital, Bishkek, was designed for 50 boys and girls up to the age of 18 but it often takes in double that number. In the first half of 2006, some 750 children passed through, 200 more than in the same period last year.

"The conditions are extremely poor," he says, pointing to the outside toilet and dilapidated bath house, where the children only have cold water to wash themselves. "We have few books, beds that are thirty years old and no transport.


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - KYRGYZSTAN [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2008

[accessed 10 June 2011]

ECPAT International, 20012

[accessed 21 December 2016]

The number of street children in Kyrgyzstan is high, particularly in the southern regions.  According to UNICEF, the number of children living and working in the streets is increasing, but there is limited data available due to the absence of an official structure responsible for collecting data in this domain.   Some statistics suggest there are an estimated 2,000 children living and/or working in the streets in Bishkek and 1,000 in Osh.

Street children are particularly vulnerable to prostitution, physical abuse, as well as extreme poverty.   Their vulnerability is a result of socio-economic difficulties including poverty, labor migration and parental alcoholism or drug addiction. At times, children are the only income earners of the family and feel responsible to provide for the needs of the entire family, not only for food and money but also alcohol.

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 29 November 2010]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Statistics on the number of working children under the age of 15 in the Kyrgyz Republic are unavailable.  However, the government estimated that 2,000 to 15,000 neglected children were living and working on the streets nationwide, depending on the time of year.  Children work selling goods (such as newspapers, cigarettes and candy), in transportation, loading and unloading goods, collecting aluminum and bottles, begging, cleaning and repairing shoes, washing cars, and selling narcotics.

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 9 February 2020]

CHILDREN - As in previous years, there were numerous reports of child abandonment due to parents' lack of resources, which led to larger numbers of children in institutions, foster care, or on the streets. State orphanages and foster homes also faced a lack of resources and often were unable to provide proper care. Some children too old to remain in orphanages were transferred to mental health care facilities, even when they did not exhibit mental health problems. Many street children left home because of abusive (8 percent) or alcoholic (10 percent) parents or desperate economic conditions (75 percent). Government and NGO estimates of the number of street children nationwide ranged from approximately 2 to 15 thousand, depending on the time of the year. Approximately 80 percent of street children were internal migrants. Street children were detained by police and either sent home (if an address was known) or to a rehabilitation center or orphanage. The two MVD-maintained rehabilitation centers, one each in Bishkek and Osh, were in poor condition and lacked sufficient food, clothes, and medicine.

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1 October 2004

[accessed 17 February 2011]

[63]. The Committee reiterates its concern with regard to the increasing number of street children in the State party and the vulnerable situation they face daily, with many of their rights not being protected (in particular their social and economic rights) and being subjected to frequent mistreatment by police officers. It is also concerned that migrants with no formal residence permits also live in very precarious housing conditions, without access to basic infrastructure and in fear of forced eviction.

Committee On Rights Of Child Concludes Thirty-Seventh Session

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Geneva, 1 October 2004

[accessed 10 June 2011]

The Committee was concerned over the reports of children being injured as a consequence of existing landmines on the borders of the State party.  The Committee urged the State party to continue its efforts to achieve a bilateral agreement for the de-mining and demarcation of the border areas, including the ratification and full implementation of the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Landmines.  The Committee was concerned with the high level of dropout rates in schools, especially among girls, due to forced marriages.  It was also concerned about the increasing practice of requesting parents to pay unofficial monthly and/or one-time enrolment fees, as well as to pay for textbooks and school repairs, which constituted obstacles for children to access educational institutes.  The Committee remained concerned about certain practices that did not allow for persons under 18 to have their own documentation and with reports that in some cases asylum-seekers were not being allowed to register their claims for refugee status because of their ethnic background.

Many parents hope for the government to solve their problem with children

Aizada Kutueva, 24.Kg News Agency, Bishkek, 28/10-2010

[accessed 10 June 2011]

“There are many parents trying to solve their problems by giving children in the care of the state,” Aleksey Petrushevsky, the Head of the Rehabilitation Centre for street children, said at a news conference on 28 October.   According to him, the authority of the family falls down. “As a result, more and more children had to live in closed institutions that badly affect their development.”

UNICEF Executive Director visits Kyrgyzstan

United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, Bishkek, 16 October 2008

[accessed 10 June 2011]

Veneman visited the Rehabilitation Center for Street Children in Bishkek, the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic, which provides shelter for approximately 70 children.  “Many of the children at the Center are from homes where domestic violence was a daily event, or where alcoholism and social and economic problems left families unable to cope or to care properly for their children,” said Veneman. “These children have been robbed of their childhood by the people who are meant to love them the most.”

Over 50 per cent of babies aged 6-24 months are anemic and approximately 13.7 per cent of the nation’s under-fives suffer from stunted growth in the Kyrgyz Republic.  This is mainly due to micronutrient deficiencies.

CRC Completed Review Of Initial Report Of The Kyrgyz Republic

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 23 May 2000

[accessed 10 June 2011]

DISCUSSION - Children were used on occasion for seasonal agricultural work, although the State discouraged the practice, the delegation said, especially when it interfered with school attendance. A human-rights activist regularly protested the use of child labour in tobacco harvesting, and the Government was aware of the problem, but identifying every case of the practice, especially in the southern regions of the country, was difficult. Each case reported was referred to local authorities. Work by the estimated 160 street children in the country was a concern; authorities tried to return them to school, but in fact it was hard to assist such children. A centre was being constructed for the rehabilitation of street children with financial help from Norway. The number of street children had declined significantly from four or five years ago.

Children of Kyrgyzstan

David Levene, The Guardian, April 2006,,1756789,00.html

[accessed 10 June 2011]

Today in Osh, a city near the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border, there are thought to be between 600 and 1,500 street children out of a population of roughly 500,000. The term street children can be used to describe not just those who are homeless but also those who sometimes live with their family but also work on the streets. I travelled to bazaars in both Bishkek and Osh and saw children cleaning shoes or selling goods such as cigarettes or bread. Some were sitting behind scales to weigh people, and there were many young porters pushing trolleys of goods. A number of children were begging on the streets. The average age of working children is between 10 and 14 years old.

Focus On Street Children In Bishkek

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks IRIN, Bishkek, 6 July 2001

[accessed 10 March 2015]

The fact is that many of the children on the street today are working to support their families, because their parents’ income no longer suffices.  Many work as porters, or sell newspapers, flowers or candy, or wash cars in the streets. There have also been incidences of child prostitution.  Other children on the street, however, are there purely due to parental neglect or, in some cases, abandonment.

The United Nations in Kyrgyzstan

[Last access date unavailable]

AUGUST 08, 2003  TRAINING SEMINAR “SOCIAL INTEGRATION OF HOMELESS, WORKING AND STREET CHILDREN” TAKES PLACE ON 5 – 14 - One of the serious consequences of the hard social-economic situation in Kyrgyzstan is an enormous growth of the number of uncared and neglected street children, who cannot afford sufficient food, education and whose life is often endangered by AIDS, drug abuse, sexual violence, exploitation and discrimination.

The United Nations in Kyrgyzstan

Last access date unavailable]

RECENTLY APPOINTED UNICEF REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR CEE/CIS/BALTIC, MS. MARIA CALIVIS VISITS KYRGYZSTAN - Majority of these children do not go to school – as is it far away, they need to travel by bus. But not all the families can afford it. Ms Calivis raised this issue at the meeting with the high officials of the country. As she said, the state is responsible for providing these children with learning opportunities.

Ralph Fiennes’ visit to Kyrgyzstan - October 2003

United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF, 6th October 2003

[accessed 10 June 2011]

His father was drunk, had beaten up the mother, destroyed the home. Andrey had run away and was living the wild migrant gypsy existence on the streets. Eventually, the young people from the center took Andrey back to his mother. And this woman, confronted with her son, was clearly wounded and bereft, and at a loss as to how to take care of him. She let him go to an orphanage rather than taking him back. Now he’s back on the street.

Children with Nowhere to Go

Ulugbek Babakulov - Central Asia, RCA Issue 101, 21 Feb 2005

[accessed 12 June 2011]

[accessed 21 December 2016]

His parents, he said, had tried to put him into an orphanage in his home village, complaining that they couldn't afford to look after him. When he had been refused, they tried to palm him off at the local police station but were turned away again.  At this point, Slava says, his mother and father just abandoned him before leaving for Russia with his youngest sister.

Country Overviews

Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Center

[accessed 12 June 2011]

KYRGYZSTAN - Growing poverty has also led to children working in a range of jobs, from working on family farms, to agricultural labor for others, domestic service, selling or working as porters at markets. Recent research estimate that approximately 24 per cent of children work either full or part time, similarly since transition there are now homeless or 'street' children in Kyrgyzstan's cities, and some reports of child prostitution and trafficking.

A Generation at Risk - Children of Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan

Armin Bauer, Nina Boschmann, David Green, and Kathleen Kuehnast.Manila: Asian Development Bank (ADB), 1998, 158 pages -- ISBN: 971-561-097-8

[accessed 12 June 2011]

[accessed 19 December 2016]

Children in Central Asia are currently experiencing an enormous rift in what were once constants in their everyday lives. In spite of the high regard for them in the Central Asian societies, the transition has had devastating effects on many families. Children bear much of the social costs of this transition period and are at risk of losing the ability to realize their own development potential.

Kyrgyzstan Facts

Alpine Fund

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

[accessed 12 June 2011]

NUMBER OF CHILDREN LIVING IN INSTITUTIONS - The majority are social orphans, children who have families, but whose families lack the support systems needed to keep them in their homes.  Social orphans may include children from families that are financially struggling, physically abusive, or using drugs and alcohol.

NUMBER OF STREET CHILDREN IN BISHKEK - The "street children", or homeless children, in Bishkek most often live in abandoned buildings, at the bazaars and nearly all beg on the streets. Some of these children are biological or social orphans, and many have fled or been forced to leave their homes or institutions.

Rights of the Child in Kyrgyzstan [PDF]

Ramazan Dyryldaev and Séverine Jacomy, The Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights -- A report prepared for the Committee on the Rights of Child, Geneva, February 2004

[accessed 28 January 2016]

5d.  CHILDREN LIVING ON THE STREETS - According to the official report of the Government programme "Zhany Muun", in 2003 more than 20,000 children of school age were not attending school. Unofficial estimates exceed 250,000. At any Kyrgyz market place one can witness out-of-school children selling merchandise or offering to carry buyers' bags for a small amount of money, or just begging or stealing. Out of those, in Bishkek alone, between 500 and 5000 children are said to be living on the streets.

There are also reportedly more and more children who have become main providers for their families by living and working in the streets in the province, especially in Osh and some other regions of the country.

Through the NGO network on Child Abuse and Neglect in Eastern Europe, the Child Abuse Centre "Moltur Koz" describes the functioning and limitations of the protection system in favour of such children. According to their information, Bishkek Militia reports an annual rounding up of approximately 1,500 vagrant children per year, a figure which represents 10% of the "at risk" child population in the opinion of one senior Department of Interior official. Less than half of the children rounded up by militia are re-united with their families and approximately one third of those returned end up back on the street within a few days. In principle, the police has the responsibility of monitoring unaccompanied minors on the streets, apprehending them, interviewing and caring for them while in reception and transit centres. But there is real concern that children’s rights are regularly abused by individual officers and by the system generally (see juvenile justice). Reception centres process the children, giving them a medical inspection, a wash and food. After the first night they are interviewed, and if their home address can be established they are transported home. If children returned to the place they lived an inspector will have some responsibility for visiting and monitoring the child but in practice there is rarely any type of social work or family support provided. The system at this point clearly fails - children invariably run away again. As for orphanages and special/boarding schools, they work on minimal budgets and staff ratios, which only allowed very minimal care for children. The family unit is not recognized as being at the heart of child protection reform. The immediate answer remains institutionalisation. The reality for such children is that when they leave the institution they are often more physically, emotionally and socially deprived than those who survive on the streets.

Some shelters have been opened in Bishkek and in several regions, where children can get medical help and psychological rehabilitation. Hospitals and services delivered by doctors for the poor and vulnerable, in the main, are of low quality and, in some cases, charged for. At present, except for Bishkek, there are no educational programs giving advice on safer sex or drug use while there is increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases among children and teenagers.

IWPR also documented the lack of services and coherent protection policy for street children in the southern Kyrgyz town of Jalal-Abad. “On a winter night, shortly before New Year, Slava Radnikov was knocking on doors in Jalal-Abad asking for overnight shelter. Every time he was refused and went on until he was found by Chinara Akmatova, assistant to Director of the Jalal-Abad Regional Women Initiative Centre.(…) Slava told her that his parents could no longer provide for him and tried to leave him at the children's home in the Oktyabrskoye village, but he was not admitted to the institution. They took him to the local police station and the Inspectorate for Minors, but met refusal. "Mother and Father could find no place for me, so in the end they just left me in the street. They went to Russia with my little sister," the boy said. Chinara gave the boy shelter and food and the next day went to the Committee for Minors under the Mayor's Office. (…) "I told the boy's story but I was told that it was not within the Committee's competence to care for the boy because the parents were in Russia."

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