Street children of Dhaka hard hit

24 April 2021

Gulam Rabbani :
Lockdown and other measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic are proving more hardship for the street children of the capital city. Many of those street children are passing days sometimes without having a meal.
At the normal times, these street children make their livelihood by doing different kinds of work. Many also get various kinds of cooperation. But those ways of livelihood have been closed due to the lockdown.
Recently a video clip of a street child has gone viral through the social media especially in the Facebook in which he is heard to say what the people will eat in this lockdown?
Mohammad Maruf, a street child who went viral in the social media and lives in the Victoria Park area of the
capital city, said, "Well, a lockdown has been imposed. Eid is ahead. What the people will eat? The lockdown which the government has imposed is fake. Thank you."
Maruf was speaking on a live broadcast of a journalist. Later the video clip went viral. The street boy later alleged that he was tortured by police for his speech.
Not only Maruf alone, street children in different areas of Dhaka are now victims of the same situation. The ongoing lockdown has made their survival difficult.
Jibon earns his livelihood by working at the Kamlapur Railway Station. But in these days, disaster has come down in his life. He and some of his mates are now just looking for a way to see if anyone gives them any help.
The government on March 29 this year imposed a new set of restrictions, including a ban on all public gatherings in areas with high rate of infections for next two weeks to control the second wave of coronavirus pandemic and its transmission.
Later the government suspended the operation of all public transport across the country since April 5 and a "strict lockdown" was imposed on April 14. This "strict lockdown" has thrown the socially vulnerable people into severer hardship.
Sk Mahabbat Hossen, Program Coordinator and Sector Specialist on Child Protection, Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), said street children are commonly a vulnerable class. This lockdown has thrown them in the hardship of extreme level, added the DAM official.
He said, "They usually wait for food at the restaurants which are now closed due to lockdown. They also make money by selling some of the things they collect from the streets. This is also not possible now as the public movement is limited."
There is no specific statistic as how many children live in the streets of Dhaka, said the DAM official. But a statistics of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies said there were over 1.5 million street children in Bangladesh in 2015, with further estimates suggesting this could rise to 1.6 million by 2024.
There is no government initiative specially to take care of these street children. But some nongovernmental organizations (NGO) like Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Local Education and Economic Development Organisation (LEEDO), Aparajeyo-Bangladesh (AB) and others are working with the street children.

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