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Get to the bottom of abuses meted out on street families

By Editorial | November 14th 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Some of the 41 street children who were dumped by Nakuru County enforcement officers at Sawich area in Chemususu Forest on the Eldama Ravine-Torongo road in Baringo County on February 7, 2019. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The level at which destitute families are exposed to endless human rights violations is astounding.

While there have been tangible efforts to safeguard basic human rights, failure to follow through these initiatives — at legislative or policy levels­ — leaves a lot to be desired.

On Wednesday, the Senate Standing Committee on Labour and Social Welfare put the Nakuru County Government on the spot over alleged rounding up and dumping of street families.

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This strange, extreme and surprise move by county officials saw 41 homeless people dumped inside Chemasusu Forest in Baringo. The committee established that county staff and vehicles were involved in the February 6, 2019 incident.

Statements taken from four street children corroborate the Senate findings. It is understood that the country government took this drastic action in an effort to “clean up” Nakuru town.  

Two years ago, some street families were rounded up by unknown people in Eldoret town only to be dumped in Busia. It’s disconcerting that authorities can infringe on rights of vulnerable families and get away with it. Much as these may be isolated cases, the barbaric Nakuru County incident offers a foul sneak preview into how reckless and irresponsible sections of our society have become to the extent that we hardly value human life.

We urge the government to get to the bottom of this matter. Those behind this heinous act shouldn’t go scot free. When needy children suffer in hands of the very officials supposed to protect them, something is amiss.

Rather than shun street families, we have a duty to build positive relationships with them because all they need is care and protection. Nobody chooses to be poor.

Granted, poverty is the prime cause of the street families’ crisis. Let there be an elaborate social welfare programme or support system through which designated social workers can reach out to these families. Because their situations can quite be complex, ignoring them will only postpone a time-bomb since deprived youth run the risk of turning into criminals.

Rehabilitation and well-thought-out community-based solutions can address this crisis. We urge authorities to understand that human rights are sacrosanct. The Children’s Department, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, the police, administrators and well-meaning lobbies have their work cut out for them.

Street Families Nakuru
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