Stakeholders urged to prioritize rights of street children in Pakistan

SLAMABAD  -  On the occasion of International Street Children Day, the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) empha­sized the urgent need for collective action to tackle the challenges confronting street chil­dren in Pakistan. Asiya Arif Khan, Executive Director of SPARC, expressed, “On Interna­tional Street Children Day, we stand in soli­darity with the countless street children in Pakistan who face unimaginable hardships daily. According to estimates, the number of street children in Pakistan is around 1.5 mil­lion; however, this data is outdated. These children encounter a multitude of chal­lenges, ranging from extreme poverty and lack of access to education and healthcare to exploitation and abuse. It is imperative that we prioritize their rights and well-being and take concrete steps to ensure they receive the protection and support they deserve. Failure to address this segment of society may result in increased delinquency among juveniles and youth.” She emphasized the need for the federal and provincial govern­ments to conduct a street children survey to gather data about their numbers and plan strategies to reintegrate them into main­stream society. Asiya shared that SPARC, in addition to advocacy, provides service deliv­ery in the form of non-formal education and distribution of essential items among these children. Dr. Khalil Ahmad Dogar, Program Manager at SPARC, emphasized, “Despite the ratification of international conventions such as the UNCRC, street children in Paki­stan continue to encounter systemic barri­ers that deprive them of their fundamental rights. To address this issue, we urge the government to implement comprehensive measures, including establishing safeguard­ing mechanisms, child protection services, and rehabilitation programs tailored to the specific needs of street-connected children. Furthermore, collaboration with the private sector and civil society is essential to en­hance government efforts and provide ho­listic support to these vulnerable children.”

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