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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                                       

Republic of Djibouti

Djibouti has few natural resources and little industry. The nation is, therefore, heavily dependent on foreign assistance to help support its balance of payments and to finance development projects. An unemployment rate of nearly 60% in urban areas continues to be a major problem. While inflation is not a concern, due to the fixed tie of the Djiboutian franc to the US dollar, the artificially high value of the Djiboutian franc adversely affects Djibouti's balance of payments. Per capita consumption dropped an estimated 35% between 1999 and 2006 because of recession, civil war, and a high population growth rate (including immigrants and refugees).  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Djibouti.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Crossroads of the Horn of Africa: Poverty Assessment

The World Bank, Poverty Reduction & Equity - Poverty Assessments, 1998

[accessed 8 May 2011]

POVERTY PROFILE - Refugees, nomads, the homeless and those living in temporary structures, and the street children are highly impoverished and vulnerable groups. Although refugees living in camps benefit from food aid, and free health care and education, they face a difficult situation and describe themselves as having lost everything, even their identity. War and poor rainfall have changed the nomad's normal patterns of transhumant behavior. Nomads cope by engaging in small-scale border trade, and receiving help from relatives living in Djibouti-ville. The street children, natives of Somalia or Ethiopia, live in dire poverty. They left their countries because of war or poverty, but have few chances to break the cycle of poverty: unable to attend school, they cope by taking odd jobs, and eating out of trash cans.

Djibouti 2011 OSAC Crime and Safety Report

US Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council OSAC Bureau of Diplomatic Security, 2011

[accessed 8 May 2011]

CRIME THREATS - Americans are strongly discouraged from giving money to peddlers and street children as this can easily lead to being swarmed by additional individuals who can become aggressive.

TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM - Visitors to Djibouti should remain vigilant at all times and maintain high security awareness while on the streets. Additional caution should be exercised around the port, bus terminal, central market, and the downtown neighborhoods (referred to as “Quartiers” locally, especially after dark. Panhandlers and street children target foreigners for petty theft by creating distractions. Visitors should avoid isolated areas, particularly along the urban coastline.


*** ARCHIVES ***

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 1 February 2011]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children displaced from Ethiopia and Somalia also seek work in the informal sector in Djibouti’s cities, working as shoe polishers, car washers, khat sellers, street peddlers, money changers, beggars, and in commercial sexual exploitation.  Commercial sexual exploitation of children is reportedly increasing, particularly among refugee street children in the capital city.

Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 16 years.  Although education is free, the additional expenses of transportation, uniforms, and books often prevent poor families from sending their children to school.  According to one estimate, approximately 65,000 school-aged children are currently not attending school in the country.

CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR - The government has also created a National Policy for Youth that focuses on children not in school. Under this policy, the government is encouraging community involvement and the use of Community Development Centers that host activities for out-of school children and serve as reading rooms for children in school.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 8 February 2020]

CHILDREN – The government devoted almost no public funds to the advancement of children's rights and welfare. A few charitable organizations worked with children.

Primary education was compulsory; however, the government did not monitor compliance. The highest level of education reached by most students was completion of primary school. The government provided tuition‑free public education, but extra expenses, such as transportation, book fees, and chalk, could be prohibitive to poorer families. School facilities continued to be inadequate. Teacher salaries continued to be in arrears and a large percentage of highly qualified teachers have left the profession. Approximately 20 percent of children who started secondary school completed their education

Concluding Observations Of The Committee On The Rights Of The Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 2 June 2000

[accessed 27 February 2011]

[45] The Committee is concerned about the exposure of older children in the State party, particularly those living on the street or working in port areas and along truck routes, to sexual exploitation and to sexually transmitted diseases, including the risk of HIV infection.

[53] The Committee is concerned about the apparent increase in the number of children involved in economic activities in the family context as well as on the streets.

[56] In view of articles 33 and 39 of the Convention, the Committee urges the State party to take all appropriate measures to prevent the involvement of children in the production, trafficking and consumption of khat and other psychotropic drugs as well as to provide care and rehabilitation, and to pay particular attention in this regard to vulnerable groups, including children who drop out of school, live on the streets, or work in the port area.

Protection Project - Djibouti [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Child prostitution is on the rise in Djibouti. A government study, conducted in conjunction with UNICEF, found that 73.3 percent of street children were Ethiopian and that over a quarter of these children were exploited in the commercial sex industry. Most are girls from the Dire-Dawa region of Ethiopia. They are often brought by other girls to brothels, where they are forced into prostitution. In Djibouti’s most famous sex venue, Rue d’Ethiopie, children age 11 to 16 are forced to engage in prostitution. - htsccp

United Nations Population Fund Country Program Outline For Djibouti [PDF]

Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme and of the United Nations Population Fund, 30 September 2002 -- DP/FPA/DJI/2

[accessed 8 May 2011]

12. Drought, poverty and frequent conflicts in the region encourage urban migration.  Overburdened urban areas are home to growing numbers of street children.

CRC 24th Session 30 May 2000  -  CRC Consideration of Initial Report on Djibouti – Morning Session

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Press Release, 30 May 2000

[accessed 8 May 2011]

The children had been arrested because they had carried out repeated burglaries.  After investigation it was found that the children involved were glue-sniffers and small-time dealers in marijuana.  Their ages were from 15 to 18.  They were placed in a juvenile center; they were drug-dependent and were in a bad state; none of them was placed in an adult prison; they were convicted and placed in a supervised center for secure education.  After they were released they reported to organizations dealing with street children, and to UNICEF.

CRC 24th Session 30 May 2000  -  CRC Conclusion of Discussion of Initial Report on Djibouti – Afternoon Session

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Press Release, 30 May 2000

[accessed 8 May 2011]

DISCUSSION - The Government, with its limited resources, was having difficulty meeting the needs of street children, Mr. Abdou said, although civil society, through various organizations, provided some services; free health care was offered; as far as he knew, such children generally did not attend school, as they came and went too freely, although when they received temporary care from civic organizations attempts were made to teach them to read.

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