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August 05, 2020

Street children should be prioritized since they are at higher risk for COVID-19 infection

With a project on providing preventive measures against COVID-19 to the street children in Yangon and Mandalay, the authorities have given attention to the vulnerable group which is at high risk of the coronavirus infection and spread.
The project focusing in the two big cities is considered an initial step for the whole country, and an immediate step taken to give protection to the vulnerable population
We should use this opportunity to prevent these children from coming on the streets again.
Under the project, Yangon Region authorities and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement have provided a shelter and health care to the street children found at traffic signals and markets instead of handing over them to their parents or relatives amidst the COVID-19.
For the children living with their parents, their guardians must be given support so that they could fulfill their obligations and safeguard the rights of children under their care.
It is found that the street children staying at the shelter have mental health problems and they are also suffering malnutrition.
We should all know that children on the streets in abject deprivation of the most basic rights and in poverty should be provided with social protection schemes as they are subjected to sexual exploitation, trafficking or any other crime.
While implementing the project, we should work to establish a children protection mechanism together with volunteers and civil society organizations in regions and states in efforts to provide the children with social schemes. Only then, can the children be prevented from coming out on the streets again.
The status of street children becomes an important issue as the stay-at-home order emptied public places. They can’t access food and water if they can’t work on the street. They can’t “stay home and stay safe” if they have no home and shelters are closed.
To implement a long-term plan to save the children on the streets, we need to prepare a national database of these children first, along with the standard operating procedures for children in street situations. But, this will take time.
In this situation, we are confident that the long-term plan for saving the children on the streets would come into existence in effective manner through this project.

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