It is unclear how many street children are living rough in places like Luanda, some estimate their numbers in thousands, others in tens of thousands, but whatever the number they face a future bleaker than most in a country that was ravaged by civil war for decades, is littered with landmines, and in regular conflict with its neighbours such as the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many of these street kids lost their parents during the war, others fled homes where there was simply not enough to go round, some fled to escape domestic violence whilst others ran away after being accused of witchcraft in fear for their lives.
As night falls many of these children head for the old crumbling sewers built a century ago by the Portuguese that form a complex maze under Luanda, where the kids compete with rats for scraps of food. As daybreak dawns its back onto the streets and a life of hawking merchandise, washing cars or simply begging or stealing to survive. Without access to education or medical care, many of these children turn to drugs, sniffing petrol or other solvents, putting themselves at even further risk of abuse including sexual exploitation.
As in many countries, these street children in Angola have few opportunities to escape this cycle of deprivation. Nearly 70% of births are not registered in Angola effectively meaning these children do not exist in the eyes of the authorities so when many 'disappear' no-one notices save for the others in the gangs they belong to nor is education an option as its not accessible. There are a number of agencies attempting to provide support for these children, but their main potential support, their families, are often not there having been killed, displaced, or are too poor to take back yet another mouth to feed in a country where around 68% live on less that $2.00 a day.
Street children in Luanda face the sternest difficulties where many existing families live in slum housing with little to discard to feed the hungry mouths of street children who live on the streets of one of the most expensive and dangerous cities on earth. The short video above shows how agencies such as Unicef are attempting to identify ways to help these young Angolan children by providing them with life skills to prepare them for an adult life away from the streets.
A video documentary about the situation
for children in Angola together
with facts and figures.
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