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Web of the Street

Webinar in french

Children in street situations during the coronavirus pandemic in Asia, in Africa and in Europe

Webinar topic

The impact and consequences of the coronavirus crisis on children in street situations in five countries, in association with the application of General comment number 21 on the Rights of Children in Street Situations adopted in 2017 by the UN CRC in Geneva.

This webinar was bolstered by a partnership with Wallonie Bruxelles International (WBI) (French-speaking community of Belgium’s international relations office). The partnership enabled meetings to be arranged beforehand between the WBI representatives in Switzerland (Geneva), Vietnam, DRC, Tunisia and Senegal, and members of the Dynamo International Street Workers Network (DI-SWN), as well as representatives of governmental and non-governmental institutions.

Speakers – observations and key ideas expressed

Walid Bouchmila, Tunisie, coordinator of the Tunisian national platform – DI-SWN

  • The local authorities need to step up their provision for children in street situations and enhance the skills of street social workers through training and a law recognizing their work.
  • Harmonise the collection of statistics by civil society and the state in order to have more reliable indicators.

Joli Apema, RDC, coordinator of Street Social Work Support Committee (CATSR) and the Congolese national platform – DI-SWN

  • Increase public funding for street social workers, housing facilities and emergency shelters for children in street situations.
  • Properly implement state guardianship in accordance with the Family Code for vulnerable children: children with links to armed groups and child victims of the worst forms of work.

Abdoulaye Diouf, Sénégal, street social worker and member of Collective of Organisations Supporting Children and Young People in Difficulty (COSAED), the Senegalese national platform – DI-SWN

  • Recommendation to focus action on this group, who are the most vulnerable.
  • Develop a hard-hitting information campaign with the participation of children and the community.
  • Many children have been placed in shelters, but some have preferred to stay on the streets to have more freedom, while others have complained about violent crackdowns by law enforcement agencies.
  • Need to raise the awareness of the law enforcement agencies so that children in street situations are treated with more dignity.

Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vietnam, coordinator of the Vietnamese national platform – DI-SWN

  • Children in street situations have been unable to access services, particularly migrants living clandestinely.
  • Street social workers are finding it difficult to contact children because of the COVID-19 measures.
  • Recommendation to focus action on this group, who are the most vulnerable.
  • Recommendation that the status of street social workers is officially recognised in the country.

Nicolas Roth, Suisse, social street worker and coordinator of the french-speaking Swiss platform – DI-SWN

  • Lack of human resources in the sector.
  • More control measures rather than support measures for families in street situations.
  • It is harder for social street workers to operate: ban on doing street work during lockdown, making it difficult to contact children/young people.
  • Trend among young people to believe conspiracy theories and a rise in petty crime.

Benoît Van Keirsbilck, Belgium, director of Défense des enfants International Belgique

  • This crisis has been tough for children in street situations and has exacerbated existing problems: difficulties surviving when working in the informal economy and following social distancing measures, lack of information and rights not being enforced.
  • The pandemic also constitutes an opportunity to bolster advocacy on these issues encountered by the children, and the chance to give children a greater voice, and ensure that their views on the situation are heard.

Hynd Ayoubi Idrissi, Switzerland, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva

  • The crisis has created opportunities: increased solidarity between civil society stakeholders, justice for children in street situations, notably by putting in place emergency accommodation solutions to respond to the crisis.
  • The crisis has also been a challenge for the states having to address the issue of children in street situations: the challenge of ensuring coordination between state services and civil society, collecting reliable data, budgetary issues in the social sector, notably caused by the global recession, challenge of taking into consideration children’s diverse circumstances (boys, girls, disabilities, LGBT+).