Caring for Unaccompanied Migrant Children in Djibouti
For over 20 years, Caritas Djibouti, our member in the country, has been providing food, healthcare and education to children living in the streets of the capital, most of them unaccompanied minors from neighboring Ethiopia.
Every day, the shelter welcomes some 120 children from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm, providing them with breakfast and lunch, shower facilities and medical care, and a range of activities including sports, drama, music, and dancing. The center also offers literacy classes in French and English.
Around 85% of Djibouti’s street children are boys aged seven to 18 who have left Ethiopia and traveled over 500 kilometers to reach Djibouti City, the country’s capital. Many have substance abuse issues, and a significant number sniff glue in order to forget their situation. “Rape and sexual assault are ongoing risks for street children in Djibouti,” the Caritas manager says. While all street children are vulnerable, those from a migrant background are often mistreated solely because of their migrant status.
The majority of children want to access education, and Caritas works with a network of Catholic schools with which it has secured reserved places for approximately twenty street children per year.In the longer term, Caritas Djibouti’s mission is to find ways to reintegrate each child attending the center by placing them with a Djiboutian family or helping them reconnect with their families in Ethiopia and undertake voluntary return.