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The child is the most precious asset and the focal point of development for any country. However, unless children are brought up in a stimulating and conducive environment getting the best possible care and protection, their physical, mental, emotional and social development is susceptible to permanent damage. Ethiopia, being one of the least developed countries of the world due to interrelated and complex socio-economic factors including man-made and natural calamities, a large portion of our population - especially children - are victimized by social evils like famine, disease, poverty, mass displacement, lack of education and family instability. Owing to the fact that children are the most vulnerable group among the whole society and also because they constitute half of the population it is evident that a considerable number of Ethiopian children are living under difficult circumstances. Therefore, as in a number of other third world countries there are many poor, displaced, unaccompanied and orphaned children in our country. A considerable proportion of these children work on the street with some even totally living on the street without any adult care and protection. These children are forced to the streets in their tight for survival. They supplement their parents meagre income or support themselves with the small incomes they earn doing menial jobs. In doing this, street children face the danger of getting into accidents and violence, they get exploited and abused, many are forced to drop out of school or never get the chance to be enroled at all and some drift into begging or petty crime. This study is undertaken mainly for updating the findings of previous studies, monitoring changing trends, examining new facts of the problem and getting a better understanding of the phenomenon in the country by covering at least some of the major centres where the problem is acute. Thus, the outcome of this research can be useful in the formation of tne social welfare programme of the country. Finally, in recognition of the urgency of the problem and the limited resources available, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs expresses appreciation to all agencies engaged in the rehabilitation of street children and prevention of the problem. The Ministry also calls for more co-operation and support between concerned governmental and non-governmental organizations in their efforts for improving the situation of street children and in curbing the overwhelming nature of the problem.
Ministry of labour and Social affairs UNICEF, Ethiopia, University College Cork, Veale, A., Adefrisew, A. and Lalor, K. (1992) Study on street children in four selected towns of Ethiopia.Published by UNICEF Ethiopia 1992.