Over one hundred street children in Calabar, Cross River State have accused the State government of neglect and abandonment.
The Street children who spoke to Newspot separately on Tuesday at their makeshift residents at Lema dump-sites in Calabar regretted the way the government treats them, lamenting that their situation was not as bad during the administration of Ex-Governor Imoke.
Eyo John Erete, Kings Patrick Antigha and Christopher Aqua, all in their teens, condemned the state government for closing down a settlement, provided by the previous government as a home for them.
They explained that in 2009, the wife of the former governor, Mrs Obioma Imoke founded the Destiny Child Centre as a resettlement home for the rehabilitation and reintegration of vulnerable children.
The home, according to the aggrieved teens was located at Anantigha in Calabar South local government area of the state but ceased to exist, shortly after it was handed over to the current administration in 2015, they alleged.
The children say they have all gone back to the streets for refuge as there is no home or assistance of any kind for them
An activist, seen hanging out with the children, Ken Henshaw said the Destiny Centre was originally created with the mission of ensuring that all children in Cross River, regardless of social class and circumstances have timely access to the basic comfort of life necessary for their rapid and enduring positive development.
Ken Henshaw, who is also the Executive Director of the Centre for Social Studies and Development in the state said the settlement was aimed at providing shelter for vulnerable children in a clean and well-kept environment.
“Between 2009 and 2015, the centre reported that a total of 201 children had been enrolled, of this number, 153 passed through formal education and 36 others learned vocational skills at the instance of the Centre.
He said 56 of the kids left the program when it was no longer in existence and returned to the streets, but today, the number has increased tremendously.
He said the situation calls for concern as the children are found in dumpsites eating from dust bins.
”Despite the impressive efforts of the Destiny’s Child Centre, the intervention did not go beyond the span of the Liyel Imoke’s administration. By 2015, the centre ceased to exist to cater for homeless children”.
“The buildings that were used by these children are now taken over by unknown persons and are now habited by families that were not known by anybody, it’s unfortunate and sad. The kids have no place to stay and are found in various dump sites in Calabar” he lamented.