New Youth Shelter Opens

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s president Robert Kocharian–His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Armenian Fund for Relief George Hovnanian attended the opening ceremony of a youth center–Wednesday.

The center has been operating since last February and has given shelter to over 210 children. About 60 percent of the children–mostly 12-15 year old boys are from Yerevan–the rest are from different provinces–Karabakh–Russia and even from Latvia.

The center provides the children with legal assistance–food–and medical needs. Children usually stay at the shelter for one month. After examining the reasons accounting for their status–some of them are returned back to their families–the others are sent to special children’s homes.

The number of children on the streets in Armenia is increasing quickly. It is an unfortunate social problem–but it is far from being the only one. Some poor families send their children into the street for money or food. Sheltering the children and explaining the issue to them–will not solve the problem. If this phenomenon persists–taking one child off the streets will not be of any use because he will be quickly replaced by another.

The real problem is that Armenia has no infrastructure or system to protect the rights of children. Along with the problem of beggar and vagrant children is the question of the increasing number of children in youth hostels.

The main responsibility of the ministry of interior affairs and national security in this area is to take beggar children off the streets and keep them in a special reception-distribution center for a month.

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