She was speaking at UNIQUE FM grounds as celebrations marking the Day of the African Child, celebrated jointly by UNICEF in collaboration with Young People in the Media 18 June, 2011.
According to her, in The Gambia, street children spend an average six (6) hours a day roaming the streets and begging.
This, she said was according to a joint assessment report conducted in 2006, by Child Fund and UNICEF, on children living and working in the Greater Banjul.
Mrs. Diawara- Famber noted that the study found that these children were in the streets form many reasons including work, although other contributing factors also include poverty, family neglect and rejection, climate change, and HIV and AIDS.
She told the gathering that many boys were found to be in the streets than girls.
However, it is disheartening to note that of the girls who roamed the streets, the majority, according to the report accounts for 35 percent and has not yet reach the puberty.
She said that the day is to allows for governments, policy makers, and other principal actors in development to examine the achievements and gaps made over the past years in securing good health, education, equality and security for all African children.
In addition, it creates the avenue for all stakeholders to monitor the implementation of the African Charter on the Rights of the Child, (the CRC), and CEDAW, as well as evaluate achievements made so far in attaining the MDGs targets specific to young people and children.
She buttressed that the day also emphasis on different current issues related to, and affecting young people living in Africa. With these sound words, she said the theme dubbed “ Altogether for Urgent Action in Favor of Street Children.”
Street children as any child below the age of 18 who either lives or work in the streets, these, she told audience that UNICEF defines as street children.
UNICEF rep stated that particular emphasis should be placed on Africa children saying that with even more emphasis on street children in Sub-Saharan Africa where she alluded poverty is deeply entrenched and the children and young people are the best most affected by conflict, hunger and disease.
She revealed that UNICEF studies indicated that thirty million impoverished children are currently living in the streets of Africa.
These figure, she remarked are affected by challenges of survival, and are also the most at risk from having their human rights violated through acts such sexual abuse and exploitation adding that child labour, child trafficking, and prostitution are the most common ones.
“Many street children fall victim to substance abuse to avoid the harsh realities of the lives they live while others engage in petty crimes to stay alive,” she positioned.
Mrs. Diawara- Flambert noted that street children in The Gambia are as the same as other street children street in other parts of the world saying that street children around the world faced violence, abuse and exploitation.
She remarked that the challenges of street children are many, saying that “we cannot discuss in one day” byt was quick to say that the challenges can be overcome by using such days to advocate for street children to our leaders, parents, and the community at large.
To offer solutions, she said the plight of street children must be on the top agenda of governments and policy makers for their pro-active efforts to organised the day long symposium and the poetry competition in commemoration of the Day of the African Child.
In conclusion, she commended Young People in the Media for the initiative for celebrating the day.
An extract paper of the 2006 Joint Assessment by UNICEF and Child Fund on children living and working in the streets of Greater Banjul made available to journalists reveals worrisome figures about street children in the country.
She concludes: “ I would like to emphasis the need to redouble efforts to ensure that the right systems are in place so that children can spend more time in homes than in the streets, and be able to build their potential for a brighter future.” She ends her speech
According to the report, around 40 percent of the children interview during the 2006 UNICEF and Child Fund assessment, aged nine and below admitted to being beaten, and 13 percent were already sexually active.
According to the assessment report, 2 percent of children aged 10 to 12 were sexually active, 13 to 15 aged accounted 20 percent and aged 16 to 18 accounted for 27 percent of being sexually active.
Many of the children, the report said lacked knowledge of how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.
In terms of labour, the assessment report pointed out that more girls were engaged in street sales than boys noting that boys were more prominent in laburnum such as sweeping which they accounted for 43 percent and girls zero percent. For that of begging, boys were 14 percent and girls 2 percent. For street sales, girls top with 73 percent and boys 20 percent. Shoe shining boys 5 percent, girls none, and housework girls 4 percent and boys 4 percent.
On the percentage of children reasons for leaving home, those said that because of work were 64 percent, school 21 percent, lack of care 5 percent, rejection by family 2 percent and other 8 percent.
Giving the location of their parents, 5 percent parents lives in the Greater Banjul area, 32 Kanifing Municipality Council, 22 West Coast Region, 5 percent North Bank Region, 3 percent Lower Ricer Region, 4 percent Central River Region, 1 percent Upper River Region and 28 percent as other.
Place of birth, 62 percent The Gambia, 22 percent Senegal and 16 percent other, were the number of children in the streets of the Greater Banjul area, while 68 percent were boys and 32 percent girls.
Of the said figures, children aged under 12 to were 22 percent, 10 to 12 accounts for 35 percent, aged 13 to 15 were 29 percent and aged 16 to 18 were 14 percent.