Created: 15 November 1998
There are no accurate figures on the number of street children in Romania, but it is estimated that in the capital of Bucharest alone, there are between three and five thousand children living on the streets. Some of the children are as young as four or five years old, though the majority are adolescents.
Most of the children have fled state-run institutions or orphanages because of the poor conditions there or because they were being abused by other children or staff. The rest of Romania’s street children have fled broken homes or abusive parents. On the streets, the children earn money by begging, stealing, doing menial tasks or prostitution. They live in small metal containers (1 metre by 1.5 metres) which line some of the sidewalks in Bucharest, in one of the city’s main train stations, the underground or the gutters.
A few non-governmental organisations are trying to offer assistance to Bucharest’s street children. Some provide a day centre where children can take a shower, get clean clothes, a decent meal and some education. Others provide medical services or night shelters. But aid groups are hard pressed to meet the growing dem and.