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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                             

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Currently, the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party has a more statist economic approach, which seeks to reduce poverty by steering investment to disadvantaged areas, developing small and medium enterprises, promoting agriculture, and expanding the already enormous civil service. The government has halted privatizations.

About 1.5 million Sri Lankans work abroad, 90% of them in the Middle East. They send home more than $2.5 billion a year.  [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 Sri Lanka.  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.


Colombo street children left in the lurch

Ananda Kannangara, Sunday Observer Magazine, 18 July 2004

[accessed 25 July 2011]

[accessed 7 January 2017]

Statistics reveal that only a handful of street children are attending schools and a majority of them are in need of a permanent shelter and a stable income to continue their education. According to a recent research conducted by the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), a majority of street children living in Colombo are under the age group of 13 years, without a fixed abode and stable family income for their parents to nurture them.


*** 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 24 December 2010]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Education facilities in the northeast of Sri Lanka have been badly affected by the civil war.  UNICEF estimates that 50,000 children are out of school and that more than 6,000 secondary school teachers are needed to fill vacant posts.

The December 26 tsunami left thousands of children in Sri Lanka orphaned or separated from their families and without access to schooling, increasing their vulnerability to trafficking and other forms of labor exploitation.  However, the impact of the disaster on children’s involvement in exploitive child labor has yet to be determined.

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 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - The law requires children between the ages of 5 and 14 to attend school, and the government demonstrated its commitment to children through extensive systems of public education and medical care. Approximately 85 percent of children under the age of 16 attended school. Education was free through the university level. Health care, including immunization, was also free.

Many NGOs attributed the problem of exploitation of children to the lack of law enforcement rather than inadequate legislation.

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 6 June 2003

[accessed 24 December 2010]

[49] The Committee welcomes the State party’s ratification of ILO Conventions Nos. 138 and 182 in 2000 and 2001, respectively.  Nevertheless, it remains concerned at the high proportion of children, including very young children, working as domestic servants, in the plantation sector, on the street and in other parts of the informal sector.

School for street children opens in Gothamipura

Rafik Jalaldeen, Daily News, 10 June 2009

[accessed 11 Aug  2013]

[accessed 7 January 2017]

Ven. Gunawansa Thera noted that a hostel for street children will be set up in the Colombo city.

“We are planning to build a hostel for the street children to keep them monitored. Therefore, we will need more funds to continue this process,” he added.

Schools for street children will also be started in the outstation towns of the country in near future.

He requested parents who did not want their children to bring them to this school before the child got dumped in garbage or get killed.

IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne observed that most of the top criminals and underworld gangsters have been street children.

Gym team training to help Tsunami victims

Phil Hill, Somerset County Gazette, 26th July 2007

[accessed 25 July 2011]

He said: "We want to raise awareness of the children in Sri Lanka orphaned by the Tsunami - the Colombo street children' who have no families.  "In particular, their education is suffering due to lack or resources and the fragile emotional state of many of them.  "Thousands were orphaned or separated from their families and without access to schooling, increasing their vulnerability to trafficking and other abuse.

"Only a handful attend school and most are in need or permanent shelter and a stable income to continue their education."  He said hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan children are at risk', with around 4,500 street children in and around Colombo.

Dons turn masters of humanity for street children

Dhananjani Silva, The Sunday Times, June 03, 2007 -- Vol. 42 - No 01, ISSN: 1391 - 0531

[accessed 25 July 2011]

When the children were first brought in, they had many illnesses and deficiencies due to the lack of proper nutrition, but with the assistance of the Serendib organization, they are now being provided with well-balanced meals. Apart from the formal education given in schools, instructors come in to teach the children English, mathematics, and science as well as dancing, music, arts, sports and scouting after school.

Most of the children are orphans. The parents of the others are allowed to come and stay at the home with their child on one day of the month as a guest if they wish, but are not allowed to take their child away even for a short while. “After they reach the age of 18, we find them employment and a place to live because by that time we consider the individual a grown-up,” he said.

Rehabilitation project for street dwellers

Nadira Gunatilleke, Daily News, Colombo, 21 April 2007

[accessed 25 July 2011]

[accessed 7 January 2017]

The National Institute of Social Development (NISD) under the Social Services and Social Welfare Ministry has conducted a survey on street dwellers in Colombo Fort and the Pettah.  The survey revealed there are nearly 1,500 persons who use the street as a place of shelter and as their 'home'.

There were 29 children in the group (17 males and 12 females) and 17 children out of this number had never attended school while five of them were attending school. Most of the children were living with their parents in the street.

Information about Street Children - Sri Lanka [DOC]

This report is taken from “A Civil Society Forum for South Asia on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children”, 12- 14 December 2001, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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

[accessed 25 July 2011]

Street children NGOs estimate 2000 street-living and street-working children in Colombo city (with 5000 children at risk) and 2,500 outside Colombo (with 5000 at risk). Some estimates place the at-risk figures in the region of hundreds of thousands. Accurate statistical data about numbers and dispersion of street children is limited, but there is acknowledgement that the number is substantial and on the increase.

Response to Asian Tsunami - Summary of issues affecting street children [DOC]

Consortium for Street Children CSC Meeting, Monday 10 January 2005, –– CSC office

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

[accessed 25 July 2011]

In Sri Lanka, likely to be more existing street children affected, especially those involved in the tourist sex trade along the coast … Anticipated that it will be several months before the extent of impact in creation of new street children will be felt and that the effects will last over several years … 1 out of 2 HfC projects specifically working with street children has had to close down

Title: The Majority of the Children in Sri Lanka Are Starving

Asian Human Rights Commission, October 16, 2001

[accessed 25 July 2011]

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500,000 children are oppressed by the war.  1.8 million children are malnourished. - 200,000 children are disabled. - 60,000 children do not go to school. - 15,000 street children exist.

Scholarships for street children

Current Affairs Sri Lanka, September 09, 2004

[accessed 25 July 2011]

162 street children were given Presidential Scholarships to mark the International Literacy Day.  The children, who were selected from the plantation sector, coastal areas and Kataragama, Ratnapura and Colombo, would go through a rehabilitation program before they are integrated in schools.

UNICEF Call To Increased Action For Sri Lanka's War Affected Children

United Nations Children's Fund UNICEF Press centre, Columbo, 22 January 2004

[accessed 25 July 2011]

The Action Plan is a combined agency effort that links Government, LTTE, donors, Non Governmental Organizations and UN agencies in a united approach to address the health, education, and protection needs of children affected by war. It is estimated that 50,000 children in the affected region are out of school, around 140,000 have been displaced from their homes

SOS Children in Sri Lanka

SOS Children’s Villages

[accessed 25 July 2011]

[accessed 7 January 2017]

A peace agreement was reached in 2002 and this raised hopes for a lasting settlement. However, peace talks between the two sides broke down in 2003.  Approximately 800,000 people, one-third of whom are children, have been displaced, sometimes several times. Of the 2.5 million people living in the areas directly affected by conflict, approximately one million are children under the age of 18.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children – Sri Lanka",, [accessed <date>]