Unemployment in Cameroon is
already high even for those with an education but for children
who live, beg and steal on the streets there is little prospect
of employment without exploitation. "A friend advised me to come
to Cameroon, telling me there is work and money to be had here,”
stated one 18yr old "But since I arrived [two months ago], I
have seen nothing of that."
In fact most end up foraging for food in rubbish bins, and when
they become ill they can't afford to see a doctor. Hundreds of
children live on the streets of the major cities with 93% of
them being boys. In a relatively harsh regime, some get arrested
for smoking or begging and find themselves incarcerated in adult
prisons often for months, sometimes years at a time before their
case is brought to court.
In the meantime they are at further risk of catching AIDS
related illnesses from older, infected prisoners awaiting trial.
Some of these street children in Cameroon are trafficked into
the country from neighbouring Nigeria and are forced to work as
domestic servants, however some flee this life and without
resources to return home join the hundreds of others living
rough in bus stops and video game houses. Others find refuge on
the verandas of off-licences and bars, whilst others find
sanctuary in abandoned or uncompleted houses.