2.5 million orphans to live among relatives


Published on 31/03/2009

By Job Weru

More than 2.5 million orphans will be withdrawn from children’s homes to live with relatives.

Gender and Children’s Affairs Minister Esther Murugi said the Government was working on a programme to trace the orphans’ relatives so they could live “normal life”.

“We want to ensure that these orphans lead a humane life. We want to link them with relatives, where they will live a good life with other children,” she said.

The minister said among the children, 1.5 million were HIV/Aids orphans living in squalid conditions.

Speaking during the inauguration of an administration block at Nyeri Children’s Remand Home in Ruring’u, the minister, who is also the area MP, said confining the children to orphanages was not a solution, as they required a family environment.

Murugi said the children continued being abused by the society, noting that defilement cases had been on the rise.

“We want to identify the children and at the same time conduct a national census of disabled children, so that we can come up with a strategy to help them,” she said.

Act to be ammended

The minister, who was accompanied by Children Services Director Ahmed Hussein and area DC Michael Mwangi, said her ministry was in the process of amending the Children Act to give stiff penalties to abusers of children’s rights.

“We have had an increase in defilement, child labour and child neglect cases, and the amendments will ensure the perpetrators are equally punished,” she warned.

“Parents or relatives not taking children to school should also change before this law comes into force,” added Murugi.

Mr Hussein said Kenyan children were at a higher risk of trafficking since the country was a transit, selling and receiving centre.

Local children abused

“Foreigners pass through Kenya, and they collect local children and subject them to abuse when they are out of the country. Many local children are at risk of being trafficked,” said Hussein.

He said coffee, tea plantations and quarries were among the most notorious child labour centres in Central Province, and called for action to guard the rights of children.

“We need to crack down on these violators to give our children a lease of life. They should be in schools, and not actively at work,” said Hussein.

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