China / China

Homeless kids in spotlight after tragedy

( Updated: 2012-11-19 16:02

The death of five homeless children in Southwest China's Guizhou province has triggered a wave of concern across the nation.

Homeless kids in spotlight after tragedy
The trash bin where the bodies of five children were discovered in Bijie city, Southwest China's Guizhou province.

The autopsy results showed the boys died from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to sources with the Bijie city publicity department.

The bodies of the five, all boys around 10 years old, were found by a trash bin at the Huandong Road in Qixingguan district, Bijie city on the morning of Nov 16.

It is reported the boys may have been burning charcoal to stay warm, the sources said.

The incident has triggered widespread concern on the Internet with both the local government and the children's parents being blamed for the deaths.

Ma Li, director of a rescue center for homeless children in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, said the tragedy exposed an unresolved dilemma in the government's work to help homeless children.

"Rescue centers don't have a long-term effective way to help these children as they can only provide food and shelter for a maximum of 10 days. After that, the rescue centers are required to send these children home," he said.

Most homeless children don't want to go home as they had bad relationships with their parents and may be victims of domestic violence. Other children fear their personal freedom will be restricted if they go to a rescue center.

"For this reason, many children shy away from rescue centers and feel reluctant to seek help," he said.

The civil affairs department and rescue centers hand out blankets and padded coats during the winter to the homeless, but more needs to be done, Ma said.

Figures released by Ministry of Civil Affairs in 2010 showed a total of 146,000 homeless or begging children received aids and help. However, a survey issued in 2005 by the National Working Committee on Children and Women, under the State Council, estimated there were between one million to 1.5 million homeless Children in China.

Experts urged the government to work out a new mechanism that encourages NGOs, schools and individuals to participate in helping the homeless.

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