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Wednesday, 23 October 2002

POVERTY, STREET CHILDREN AND THE FUTURE OF KYRGYZSTAN

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By Kunduz Tashtanalieva (10/23/2002 issue of the CACI Analyst)

Since establishing independence from the former Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan has faced many severe hardships, which brought the disaster of poverty for many citizens. Poverty became one of the major problems for the country and its people, and an issue that needs rapid measures to address it.  Unfortunately, the consequences of poverty are making life difficult for many people.

Since establishing independence from the former Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan has faced many severe hardships, which brought the disaster of poverty for many citizens. Poverty became one of the major problems for the country and its people, and an issue that needs rapid measures to address it.  Unfortunately, the consequences of poverty are making life difficult for many people. 

A correspondent of the newspaper "Vecherniy Bishkek" reports that among the homeless people throughout Kyrgyzstan, 10 people are dying every few days.  Home means a lot for human beings but not everybody can have it.   Homelessness is increasing day by day and one can observe more and more people going around trashcans searching for food to eat.   It is especially hard for homeless people to survive during the harsh winters. The "Vecherniy Bishkek" report found the interesting information that for a homeless person to spend a night during winter at a heated shelter, he or she has to pay about 5 soms (the price of bread).

The most shocking side is that there are about 15,000 homeless children throughout the territory of Kyrgyzstan.  Many children prefer life on the streets to the difficult life at home, because most of the parents of street children are drug and alcohol users who sometimes beat their children to death. At home, they are forced to work hard to find some money for their parents to have something to drink. Outside, they feel freer and independent.  In many newspapers, one can read interviews made by journalists with these children, and feel deep sorrow for them.  They are always in dirty closes on streets, around supermarkets begging, gathering bottles or stealing.  Many of them have many kinds of illnesses, and they start to smoke and drink in very early ages. They can also be very aggressive and cruel towards people and of course mostly none of them receive educated. A correspondent of  the newspaper "Delo No." made an interesting observation concerning homeless people.  Many of these people nowadays try to find food from the leftovers that come from "Manas" airport where the Camps of the U.S. and coalition military forces are located. They wait for it everyday and they seem satisfied because it is not easy to find this much food anywhere else.

Of course there are some orphanage houses through Kyrgyzstan, and many of them are sponsored by international organizations. However, there are too many children to take care of, which is financially difficult to afford. This situation is one of the major consequences of increasing poverty.  The question that comes to mind is who is responsible for this?

Whatever the answer, President Askar Akaev has created a movement for the fight against Poverty.   Because children are our future, all social and political forces should work together to address this problem.

Kunduz Tashtanalieva

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