Nongovernmental organisations drawn from the coast region have raised concerns over increased cases of abandoned children by parents seeking greener pastures in the gulf countries.
Muslims for Human Rights(MUHURI) gender officer Topister Juma said that statistics released by the organisation have revealed that children-led households were on the rise in parts of the coast region with Mombasa leading in such cases followed closely by Kilifi County.
"A two-year study has revealed that young parents are leaving their children as young as three years old in the care of guardians, relatives, and close friends to enable them to travel to the gulf countries to work as domestic workers in search of greener pastures," she said
She stated that the trend had led to minors as young as 10 years joining criminal gangs due to lack of parental care, and an increase in street children.
Juma, who was addressing female journalists and women rights defenders in Mombasa during a one-day seminar, added that the trend had exposed minors to physical abuse, school dropout, defilement, and violations of their rights.
"The trend has highly contributed to child labor, raise of defilement and sodomy cases among other social ills which have been documented by my organisation," she said.
Juma called on the government to crack the whip on parents who were leaving behind minors in search of greener pastures in an effort to safeguard future generations.
"It's sad since the government, and especially the children's department remains silent on how to handle such cases since the law is still unclear. It's high time the stakeholders involved in the welfare of children get back to the drawing board and come up with clear laws to safeguard the welfare of minors under such circumstances," she said.
Abandoned children in Mombasa
On his part, Mombasa County Children's Officer Gabriel Kitili said that there were ongoing negotiations with the National Employment Authority ( NEA)to come up with a way of vetting those willing to travel abroad.
"Due to the increase of abandoned children, we are trying to come up with a policy that will involve village committees to vet those who want to travel. Although we have prevented a few cases which have been reported to us prior to their travel there are no clear policies but soon anyone with young children will not be allowed to leave the country," he said
He noted that an increase in cases of abandoned children has been reported in areas of Kisauni, Likoni, and Changamwe.