Kenyan children forced into sex industry, live in tents

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Kenya remains unsettled after the disputed elections in 2007. After much violence and upheaval, many children here continue to live in government-issued tents, forced into the sex industry to survive. School for many of these children are out of the question. As such, an entire generation of young Kenyans will grow up to be unprepared to deal with an increasingly complex world.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – More than 660,000 Kenyans were chased from their homes and 1,200 died in the 2007 elections, which was fuelled by historical grievances between ethnic communities.

Many children live on the streets. Others remain in battered tents that were issued to their families six years ago. United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani relayed the grim statistics following her nine-day visit to Kenya.

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“Many IDP [internally displaced] girls, for example . were being exploited sexually because they have no basic livelihood,” Beyani told Thomson Reuters Foundation after the press conference. Beyani also acknowledged Kenya’s government has bought land to resettle some IDPs and given others cash. The program has been plagued by corruption and inefficiency.

“There is no space for them to farm at all. So they find their own livelihoods in terms of going into the town and doing what they have to do.”

Visiting three sites around Gilgil, 80 miles northwest of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, he went to see whether conditions had improved since his last visit in 2011.

“Basically, no improvement has been made,” he said. “The IDPs still live in tattered camps without access to adequate food and services. They are cramped in the tents in which they live.”

Children living in the camps and on the street are not going to school. While primary education is nominally free in Kenya, parents have to contribute to equipment, like desks and books, as well as paying for uniforms.

“Most IDP families can’t afford that and that effectively bars their children from going to school,” he said. “A whole generation is just lost in terms of their future and in terms of their education.”

Many schools remain too far away for young children to walk. It’s impossible to reach during rainy season.

“It is important in the course of resettling IDPs to make sure that the land on which they are resettled is in close proximity to a school,” Nina Schrepfer, a legal adviser with the U.N.’s refugee agency who travelled with Beyani said.-catholic.org

 

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