KARACHI - A large number of migrant children are living without support and socio-economic security in Pakistan.

This was informed by a group of 10 students of Departments of Sociology and Criminology (University of Karachi) at a seminar here on Wednesday.

The students had conducted qualitative and quantitative researches as part of their master thesis on different socio-economic issues of displaced children living on the streets of Karachi. The students were facilitated by a child rights organisation under the global campaign entitled ‘Destination Unknown- Children on the Move’ supported by Terre des homes International Federation (TDHIF).

The researchers thoroughly revealed the gloomy picture of the children living on streets and particularly focused on the socio-economic problems they confronted as well as their vulnerability to different risks.

Nazra Jehan, the coordinator of “Destination Unknown – Children on the Move” campaign in Pakistan stated that large number of migrant children in Pakistan lived without support and socio-economic security.

“Among them, Afghan children are in majority while large number of Bengali, Burmese and children of other nationalities are also living without protection,” she added.

Giving details of the research, she said it mainly focused on finding out the root cause of the problems that led children to delinquency, drugs, child labour and begging.

Research says that increasing number of street children in Karachi and other urban areas were a glaring example of child vulnerability to all forms of exploitation.

The research also noticed that drug use was very common among these children; be it in jail or elsewhere.

Besides this, in most cases these children are also subjected to sexual abuse.

The common element among all such victims, including those affected by gang wars and law & order situation, was the lack of education. Amna Zafar shared with the audience the health issues of Afghan children who had adopted garbage picking as their profession to fulfill their basic needs.

The study shows important variables of age, residential area, education, family income, number of family members and the period of migration of these Afghan refugees.

Almost all of the respondents had migrated from Afghanistan more than 10 years ago. Some of the respondents said that they were born in Pakistan and their forefathers had migrated during the war situation and political and economic instability in their state.

Majority of them were uneducated and some had just primary level education. 

Jawaria Tariq, another young research scholar, studied the development of risk factors among the displaced adolescents through the use of substance abuse cause increasing stress, depression, anxiety, and poor mental health.

The researcher used the qualitative and exploratory method of study.

Similarly, Rabia Sohail studied the effects of substance abuse on street adolescents of Karachi.

The group of researchers found out that majority of respondents were illiterate and unemployed and were habitual eaters of fennel nuts (sonf supari).

The research also highlights the stomach diseases generating through the use of substance abuse.

However, Tehseen Anwer conducted a sociological study of socioeconomic determinants of child labour at auto workshops of Karachi.

The researcher used the purposive sampling and 110 respondents, the total population observed and interviewed through structured questionnaires. The major findings of the study showed the negative impacts on the physical health of these growing children, unaware of their basic rights and responsibilities divert their attention from academics and skip education and started employment through serving mechanical work at auto workshops in Karachi.

A study conducted by Samillah on children involved in Street Crime, which shows that they live in situations that put them at risk of exploitation, abuse and discrimination at destination unknown. These children became the victim's of racism, divorce and other related problems.

Lastly, Anum Agha studied the effects of socioeconomic problems of the inmates languishing at the Youthful Offenders Industrial School (YOIS). In the present study the researcher used quantitative research method and structured questionnaire for data collection.

The researcher used matrix question which is based on nominal and ordinal scale but researcher also used interview schedule because majority respondents were illiterate.

The researcher concluded that presence of crime in family and friends was also a very important cause of delinquent behavior of children so to control juvenile delinquency we have to work for the whole society and it is also necessary to make strong our religious institution.

Another problem cause by delay in decisions is that prisons are losing their role of deterrence in Pakistan there is no institution for juvenile offender in which they socialize properly and receive good education.