Target: Yoweri Museveni President of Uganda
Goal: Urge President Museveni to help homeless youth in Uganda
With over half of the Ugandan population under the age of 15, the country is facing a unique crisis as children begin to make up the largest demographic group living in poverty. The number of Ugandan children living on the streets is increasing and, in the midst of political and social turmoil, the prospects of improvement for homeless youth is beginning to look bleak. A Human Rights Watch report entitled “Where Do You Want Us to Go?” Abuses against Street Children in Uganda,” documents the harrowing experiences of hundreds of homeless children from police violence to sexual exploitation.
As Ugandan authorities focus on the country’s notorious ‘anti-gay’ bill and faces sanctions over human rights violations, the welfare of the country’s 10,000 street children continues to be ignored. With rioting and violence more widespread, homeless children are falling victim to abuse by Ugandan police, and are being detained unlawfully more than ever. By day, homeless children are threatened by authorities that steal money from them, beat them with batons and whips, or wrongfully convict them of petty crimes. When detained, the children aren’t housed in juvenile detention centers. Instead, they are placed in cells with adults and forced to do labor, like scrubbing cell walls or cleaning bathrooms, to earn their freedom.
What’s most disturbing is how many street children report being sexually abused and coerced to use or sell drugs. According to the Human Rights Watch report, boys and girls as young as eight years old get caught up in human trafficking, while others are raped or sexually assaulted by community members and older homeless kids. Of the hundreds of children interviewed, about 50 percent of them reported being reliant on sex work to survive.
While Uganda is equipped with shelters, programs, and organizations aimed at getting homeless children off the streets, the country is simply at odds with the growing population of impoverished youth. The streets are no place for a child and the suffering of Uganda’s homeless youth population must end now.
Sign the petition to urge Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to do more to help homeless children lead better lives.
Dear President Yoweri Museveni,
Uganda is slowly becoming overrun by homeless youth and as an influential authority figure you should be doing more to address this dire situation. As Uganda faces political and social turmoil, sanctions, human rights violations and so on, the livelihoods of street children are being ignored. There are approximately 10,000 children living on the streets of Uganda. As poverty in this population grows prevalent, many of them rely on manual labor and sex work to get by. What’s even more disturbing is how many of these children are exploited by the police. From extortion to unlawful detainment, Ugandan authorities have inflicted pain, both physical and mental, onto these innocent children and the injustice must end now.
I urge you to implement better programs aimed at getting these children off the streets and into loving homes, where they can earn an education and lead satisfying lives. The streets are no place for a child and these children deserve a second chance at a fulfilling life.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: badeendjuh via morguefile