Thursday, January 15, 2015

Street children rounded up and caged to keep streets clean for Pope's visit - Dailymail

Street children as young as five are being caged in brutal detention centers in a cynical drive to smarten up the Philippines capital ahead of a visit by Pope Francis this week, according to the British Dailymail.

Hundreds of boys and girls have been rounded up from doorways and roadsides by police and officials and put behind bars in recent weeks to make the poverty-racked city more presentable when Pope Francis arrives today.

Similar stories have also appeared on Catholic.org, Inquisitr, and other international media orgs. 

Excerpts from the Dailymail:

EXCLUSIVE - Children CAGED to keep the streets clean for the Pope: Police round up orphans and chain them in filth during pontiff's visit to Philippines


  • * Street children in Manila are being rounded up before the Pope's arrival 
  • Officials claim it is to stop gangs of beggars targeting the Pope
  • But critics say it is a cynical move breaching the children's human rights
  • MailOnline investigation finds horrendous conditions at the centres
  • Children forced to sleep on floors and kept with adults who beat them
  • Some children have been starved and chained to pillars in the centres
  • One child rounded up 59 times - yet he is still living on the streets

Street children as young as five are being caged in brutal detention centres alongside adult criminals in a cynical drive to smarten up the Philippines capital ahead of a visit by Pope Francis this week.

Hundreds of boys and girls have been rounded up from doorways and roadsides by police and officials and put behind bars in recent weeks to make the poverty-racked city more presentable when Pope Francis arrives tomorrow, a MailOnline investigation has found.

In a blatant abuse of the country's own child protection laws, the terrified children are locked up in filthy detention centres where they sleep on concrete floors and where many of them are beaten or abused by older inmates and adult prisoners and, in some cases, starved and chained to pillars.

Six million people are expected to attend an open air mass conducted by Pope Francis in Manila's Rizal Park on Sunday, which will watched by a global TV audience and officials appear determined to ensure that urchins are hidden from view.

MailOnline found dozens of street children locked up in appalling conditions alongside adult criminals in Manila, where a senior official admitted there had been an intensive round-up by police and government workers to make sure they are not seen by Pope Francis.

We gained rare access to a detention centre by accompanying Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Irish missionary Father Shay Cullen, 71, as he freed a boy aged around seven and took him to his Preda Foundation shelter for children 100 miles away in Subic Bay.

Mak-Mak, whose legs and body were riddled with scabies, was picked up three weeks ago and spent Christmas and the New Year in a concrete pen at the centre hidden away in the slums of Manila's Paranaque district which –with grotesque irony – is named House of Hope.

There, guiltless children are kept behind bars, made to go to the toilet in buckets and fed leftovers which they eat from the floor. There is no schooling or entertainment for the youngsters who are held sometimes for months before being freed.

Adult convicts are kept in a pen next to separate compounds holding boys and girls and freely pass between the pens at certain times of the day, inmates and regular visitors to the centre told us, while officials either ignore or fail to spot abuse and attacks.
Orobia told the Manila Standard newspaper the syndicates 'know the Pope cares about poor kids, and they will take advantage of that'



'These kids are totally without protection. They have no legal representation. They are just put in jail and left to fend for themselves.'

Pope Francis famously washed the feet of inmates in a youth detention centre in Rome in 2013 but Father Shay, who has run a mission to help children in the Philippines for 40 years, said: 'Sadly, there is no way the Pope will be visiting these detention centres in Manila.

'They are a shame on the nation. Officials here would be horrified at the prospect of the Pope seeing children treated in this way.'

The caging of street children ahead of the Pope's visit comes despite anger in the Philippines late last year over another notorious detention centre – the Manila Reception and Action Centre (RAC) – where a skeletal 11-year-old was pictured lying on the ground, apparently near death.

The boy, who shares the Pope's name Francisco, is now recovering at a children's home run by a charity - but protests over his case failed to halt the current round-up or improve conditions at the 17 detention centres across the city, where an estimated 20,000 children a year are detained.

Rosalinda Orobia, head of Social Welfare Department in Manila's central Pasay district, claimed the round-ups had been conducted to protect the Pope from being targeted by gangs of begging street children 
Rosalinda Orobia, head of Social Welfare Department in Manila's central Pasay district, claimed the round-ups had been conducted to protect the Pope from being targeted by gangs of begging street children 

Full story and more photos on Dailymail

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