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Gulu Mayor Battles against Street Children

Labeja states that the municipality has received several complaints of theft masterminded by the street children. He adds that taking them off the streets will not only improve safety for town dwellers, but will also get rid of the mess brought about by the Presence of street children.
Gulu Municipality Mayor George Labeja has ordered for the apprehension of all street children in Gulu town blaming them for increasingly becoming a threat to the business community.

Labeja states that the municipality has received several complaints of theft masterminded by the street children.  He adds that taking them off the streets will not only improve safety for town dwellers, but will also get rid of the mess brought about by the Presence of street children.

He says the children below 18 will be taken to Gulu remand home while those above 18 will be incarcerated at Lugore prisons. Those who qualify for trial will be charged with theft, robbery and facilitating crime, Labeja adds.

However there has been public concern on the state of the only remand home and the manner within which it is being run.  They claim the home is not fit to accommodate the children since it does not have resources to feed and provide other basic necessities for the occupants.

But Labeja argues that even though the facilities to take care of the children are not well equipped, the district will devise any possible means to solve the problem of having them roaming around.

//Cue in: “we are going to……..

Cue out: …..within the municipality”//

Labeja Further warns that parents whose children are found to be living on the streets will be arrested and charged with abuse of children’s rights.

However, the suggestions have been welcomed with reservations among some leaders.

Francisco Wadok, the chairperson for Koro Sub County in Omoro says the problem should be addressed through identifying problems that drive children out of their homes to the streets. He argues that with the already poor remand home system, the children will not be adequately rehabilitated.

Labeja says authorities need to trace for any relatives of the children who are orphaned and entrust them with their care and support.

Patrick Jimmy Okema, the Aswa regions police spokesperson says that some of the street kids are children from well known families who do not either want to go to school or are driven by the need for freedom to come to the streets.

Okema explains that Police has been forced to release children detained in the past because it was working in isolation without the involvement of the municipality and the district to either facilitate prosecution or even trace for their families.

Like any other district in northern Uganda, Gulu has many orphans and vulnerable children, many of which are being kept by charity organizations and orphanages. At least 100 children still sleep and eat off the streets of Gulu town, seven years after peace returned to the region.

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