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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                   

Republic of Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is an extremely poor nation with tremendous inequality in income distribution. While it possesses substantial mineral, agricultural, and fishery resources, its physical and social infrastructure is not well developed, and serious social disorders continue to hamper economic development. Nearly half of the working-age population engages in subsistence agriculture. Manufacturing consists mainly of the processing of raw materials and of light manufacturing for the domestic market. Alluvial diamond mining remains the major source of hard currency earnings accounting for nearly half of Sierra Leone's exports.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: SierraLeone

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Sierra Leone.  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.


Sierra Leone's Children are Pushed onto Streets

Voice of America VOA News, Abidjan, May 26, 2005

[accessed 18 July 2011]

It is a common sight to see street children in Freetown.  After a decade of conflict, Sierra Leone is so poor, that many children are sent out to work instead of going to school.  The lucky ones will have some place to go, but many of them have been pushed out of their homes, and are sleeping on the street.

Stop The Abuse Now! Children In Sierra Leone Deserves a Better Life

Alhaji Saidu Kamara, Standard Times Press News - Sierra Leone, Sep 1, 2008

[accessed 18 July 2011]

[accessed 4 January 2017]

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly also be accessible [here]

Dr. Ibrahim Sallieu Kamara, a senior lecturer at the MMECT recently drew the attention of Sierra Leoneans to what he termed the emergency of “second generation of street children”, referring to street children who have given birth to children and are raising them in the streets.  He warned that until something concrete is done about these children, moral decadence, violence and crime in the Sierra Leone society will likely escalate.  He said unlike their parents, the second generation of street children have no definite cultural heritage or background except the culture the “survival of the fittest”.  This is because they only learn about violence, cheating, armed robbery and illicit business like the drug trade just for them to survive.  He said that they lack the opportunity to learn cultural values like discipline, hard work, love and respect which are needed in every stable and civilized society.


*** 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 22 December 2010]

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - UNICEF estimated that 71.6 percent of children aged 5 to 14 years in Sierra Leone were working in 2000.  Two percent of these children were paid, while a large percentage performed unpaid work for someone other than a household member.  Children in Sierra Leone work in family businesses and as petty vendors, and on family subsistence farms.  Street children are employed by adults to sell, steal and beg.

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 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Public education is available up to the university level. The law requires school attendance through primary school; however, only 41 percent of primary school-aged children were enrolled in school, according to UNICEF. Schools, clinics, and hospitals throughout the country were looted and destroyed during the 11-year insurgency, but the majority have been rebuilt. A large number of children received little or no formal education. Formal and informal fees largely financed schools, but many families could not afford to pay them.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [d] In rural areas children worked seasonally on family subsistence farms. Children also routinely assisted in family businesses and worked as petty vendors. Adults engaged a large number of street children to sell, steal, and beg.

There were reports that children whose parents sent them to friends or relatives in urban areas for education were forced to work on the street.

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

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 28 January 2000

[accessed 22 December 2010]

[50] The Committee is deeply concerned at the large numbers of children who have been deprived of a family environment through the death of, or separation from, their parents or other family, and at reports of the difficulties and slow progress in tracing separated families and children. The Committee is concerned, further, that children deprived of their family environment may increasingly travel to the main towns, where they may live on the streets and be particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

[80] The Committee is concerned by the increasing incidence of child labor, in particular on the streets of the main towns, and anticipates that, in the current post-conflict situation, the number of children engaged in such labor is likely to increase. The Committee is especially concerned at the situation of children begging in cities and major towns.

Street children are embarrassment to the nation

Solomon Rogers, Awoko Newspape, 18 June 2009

[accessed 18 July 2011]

He said they have been monitoring most of their activities to ensure its sustainability. Contrary to wide spread  speculations that most of the street kids and child guides do not go school , he said  they do go to school, explaining that those child guides in the afternoon shift accompany  their disable parents to the street  in  the  morning hours  and help them beg for some hours before leaving for school, but those in the morning shift  only  drop their parents in the morning hours to join them when schools are over.   He therefore attributed the alarming situation street children to poverty as he put he has never seen a child of a rich man beg for his living in the street.

What does the future hold for these children?...Child rights must be preserved

Awareness Times Newspaper, Freetown, Feb 6, 2008

[accessed 18 July 2011]

Most or all of these disadvantaged children the Roaming Pen spoke to expressed interest in education. The fact however is, their parents cannot afford the expensive education system in the country, hence have no alternative but to follow them in the degrading act of begging.

One of the destitutes, an old blind man named Pa Momodu Kamara intimated that it is not his wish to use his only child in begging, but he is left with no option other than what they are presently engaged in as he cannot afford sending his child to school.

C.C. Y. O vows to help street children in Sierra Leone

Bampia J. Bundu, Awareness Times Newspaper, Freetown, Jan 10, 2008

[accessed 18 July 2011]

Mr. Freeman further stated that children and youths have become the prey of drug barons, human traffickers and prime targets for prostitution due to poverty.  To a large extent youths and children were the unwitting perpetrators and victims of the ten-year war the nation endured just five years back, and their continued plight has the potential to make this nation implode. Mr. Freeman noted.  He also stated that some of the street children are being treated callously be society in a manner the civilize world would frown at.  Thousands of them need protection which has not been forthcoming and such protection is necessary as many of them were orphaned as a result of the war.

Benefit will help feed orphans in Sierra Leone

Northwest Indiana NWI Times, November 3, 2007

[accessed 18 July 2011]

Aminata concentrated her efforts on the orphaned street children. In the spring of 2004, when she herself was only 21 years old, Aminata asked the Rev. Gibson if she could adopt the children she was helping. He agreed and with the government’s approval she adopted 20 street children and opened what she calls Savior of the World Children’s Center.  Back in the U.S., friends of the Rev. Gibson organized the relief efforts into a nonprofit charity and Savior of the World, Inc. was born.  Aminata, now 24, is the legal mother of 30 children rescued off the street. She and the children live in a small, rented apartment that is without running water, electricity or even doors. The 30 children share two bedrooms and 14 single beds. They do not have a yard to play in.

Youth Organization Promotes Street children in Sierra Leone

Aruna Turay, Awareness Times Newspaper, Freetown, Sep 13, 2007

[accessed 18 July 2011]

In expressing thanks and appreciation, one of the beneficiaries, Komba Kelley, said he is thankful to PMBF for affording him those needed items which will greatly improve his condition. Asked by our reporter why he decided to stay in the streets, he had this to say: "I lost my father during the war and my mother is so sick that she can not support me now. She is staying with her friend in a single room which can not accommodate all of us. So I have nobody to care for me that is why I decided to fend for myself in the streets." He however, said that he wants to go to school if he has the support as he wants to become a medical doctor in future to help his ailing mother.

AYPAD to reform street kids in Sierra Leone

Sama Garrick, Awareness Times Newspaper, Freetown, Nov 15, 2006

[accessed 18 July 2011]

Speaking on behalf of the street children, 12-year old, shabby-looking Francis Amara narrated a tragic story that led him to take to the streets. According to Francis, he has been living in the street for the past three years, after he left his poor parents in Guinea in search of fortune in Sierra Leone. "My only source of livelihood is sweeping, toting and doing other odd jobs," Francis informed the gathering.

Street Children of Sierra Leone Lead Brutal, Dangerous Life

Gabi Menezes, Voice of America VOA News, Makeni Sierra Leone, 27 May 2005

[accessed 4 January 2017]

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly also be accessible [here]

[accessed 18 July 2011]

A decade of conflict has made poverty in Sierra Leone so bad that many families cannot afford to take care of their children. Over 1,500 children live on the streets in Freetown alone, making a living doing odd jobs. They are the children most in danger of violence and sexual abuse.

Letter from Collins Kamara

Collins M kamara, 25 Nov 2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 18 July 2011]

In trying to combat Sierra Leone's streetchildren epiemic, preventing street children International Sierra Leone (PSCISL) has developed a diverse setttttt of programs, including regular orientation programs directed for the police. The purpose of this is to cause attitudinal  changes among the police pertaining to street children who are wrongly understood by society in general and the police in particular. Once children are onto the streets they are branded by  the society as "hopeless cases, vandals, uncultured, etc". Many people don't seem to take the hardship of questioning why these children are out on the street with little or no family control? what the pull and push factors are? What corrective measures are required? what they could contribute to mitigate this growing urban social phenomenon?

Information about Street Children – Sierra Leone [DOC]

This report is taken from “A Civil Society Forum for Anglophone West Africa on Promoting and Protecting the Rights of Street Children”, 21-24 October 2003 in Accra, Ghana

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 18 July 2011]

4 January 2017

[page 12]

CONSTRAINTS AND CHALLENGES -- Lack of basic needs (shelter, clothing, medical care and food), lack of access to education, vulnerability to HIV/AIDS/STIs, a negative societal attitude towards street children arising from a misconception that they are responsible for all the ills of the society and a failure to consider their plight; harassment by police and local hoodlums.

Children working in Sierra Leone mines

Lansana Fofana, BBC News, Freetown, 28 August 2003

[accessed 22 December 2010]

HIREDAbou, a boy aged nine whom I spoke to at the mines, told me that he and his brother, who is 14, work for their father, who is disabled.  Abou has never been to school and he told me that he is not at all interested in school.  Other children, some of them former combatants, some orphans and street children, are hired by adults to do their dirty work for them.

UN Special Envoy for Children and Armed Conflict applauds progress

United Nations Press Release, Freetown, 28 February 2003

[accessed 18 July 2011]

[accessed 4 January 2017]

Yet, Mr. Otunnu noted, tremendous challenges lay ahead - some a legacy of the decade-long conflict and others linked to persistent poverty. Uppermost is the education sector, where many classrooms require repair or rehabilitation, there are acute shortages of teaching materials, and teaching staff need training and adequate remuneration. Another is the condition and dire needs of the disabled, particularly the amputees and other war-wounded. A third area of concern is the extensive use of children as labour in diamond mining, preventing their schooling.

Mr. Otunnu noted that child labour and other social ills aggravated by the war, for example, growing numbers of street children and an increase in child prostitution, are linked to pervasive poverty and dramatic disparities in development between urban centres and the rural areas. He also drew attention to the particular plight and vulnerability of girls. Many girls associated with the fighting forces were bypassed in the disarmament process and ostracized from their families and communities. Many others are victims of sexual abuse and violence, with an inadequate response by the judicial system.

Human Rights Developments

Human Rights Watch World Report 2001, Sierra Leone

[accessed 18 July 2011]

CHILDREN - Over 1,700 child combatants were demobilized before the collapse of the peace process, but from the May collapse to this date, only 115 had been registered. While some eight hundred children were reunified with their families between January and August, some four thousand children were still registered as missing (most abducted by rebel forces).

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