Objective: The aims were: (1) to examine the profile of African street children and to assess the link between street children in Africa and political violence; (2) to undertake a systematic examination of causal factors of street children in postgenocide Rwanda; and (3) to situate this analysis in the context of the socio-cultural and political impact of the genocide on Rwandan communities.
Method: Observational mapping examined the profile and activities of Rwandan street children. Structured interviews were carried out with 290 children in four regional towns to obtain information on socio-demographic, familial, educational background, causal factors surrounding street life involvement, psychological well-being, and relationship to the street. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews examined the relationship between street children and the broader Rwandan society.
Results: Street children in Rwanda were predominantly adolescent boys, almost half of whom were homeless (42%), with a high proportion of orphaned children or children who had lost at least one parent. Two variables predicted homelessness: child's guardian and reason for being in street. Qualitative accounts of children conveyed the impact of death of family members, repatriation, imprisonment of parents, and poverty on their lives.
Conclusions: The analysis highlighted the need for community based support for children in alternative guardianship care and for policies to support the reintegration of male youths in postconflict welfare strategies as prevention strategies for street migration. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.