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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 17:05 GMT
Bangladesh facing street children problem
Street children in Dhaka
Street children face a daily routine of exploitation
By the BBC's Alastair Lawson in Dhaka

A report in Bangladesh has warned that the number of street children in the country is set to rise as the urban population grows by 9% a year.

The report has been released by Appropriate Resources for Improving Street Children Environment (Arise) which is a joint initiative between the government and the UN.

It has been widely described as one of the most comprehensive reports into the plight of street children in Bangladesh.

The report concentrates on six of the country's largest cities and recommends a series of measures that should be taken to combat the problem.


The report says the streets of Bangladesh are dangerous places for children.

Dhaka street
Bangladesh is facing economic downturn

They face a daily routine of exploitation and violence and like other street children in the world often end up in a life of crime.

The report says it is impossible to calculate exactly how many street children there are in total, but it is generally thought to be approaching two million.

Most of these are aged between three and 18 years.

Few are literate and most come from broken families.

Sexual abuse is rampant.


The report makes some radical suggestions to change things for the better.

It says that at present, there is no comprehensive government policy to help street children.

A database could be established the report says, in addition to drop-in centres and a system of identity cards.

Vocational training should also be offered and a bank could be set up to collect funds from local and foreign sources.

Aid workers point out that these suggestions are radical and will be difficult to put into practice in a country which already relies heavily on foreign donors and is one of the poorest in the world.

With Bangladesh facing an economic downturn the fear is that life for children on the streets can only get worse.

See also:

01 Dec 01 | South Asia
Questions over Bangladesh detention
19 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Fears of Bangladeshi Hindus
20 Nov 01 | South Asia
Calcutta refugees protest against Dhaka
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