AFRICA/BENIN - 800 000 street children escaped from their families, abandoned because of poverty, victims of conflict and abuse

Friday, 18 November 2011

Cotonou (Agenzia Fides) - Benin is a country where more than 3 million people live below the poverty line. Half of the population of the country, about four million are less than 18 years old, and among these, 33% live on less than a dollar a day. In addition, malnutrition in children under five years exceeds 20%. Because of poverty, the majority of children escape from families, are abandoned or raped. One in three children work in inhuman conditions and without any form of guarantee in major markets in Cotonou and Porto Novo, and about 800 000 live on the streets. The Salesian missionaries are trying to face this emergency, among others, they have a few reception centers in the markets of Cotonou, Porto Novo and Seed. In these centers children and young people are similar to those with whom they share their problems and receive the first school lessons. Also in Porto Novo and Kandi the Salesians have two other short-stay centers, where they receive guidance and participate in workshops and courses. The Magone Centre is instead a shelter for a longer period where the children receive a formal education in addition to vocational formation that prepares them to deal with external reality. The commitment of the Salesian missionaries involve over 2 000 children and young people with the aim of making them re-enter society and return with their families. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 18/11/2011)