Xinjiang children return to uncertain future

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, January 27, 2012
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More than 1,330 vagrant children have been brought back home to northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region as a result of a campaign launched last year, but their care remains a problem for the local government.

The region began a nationwide search for vagrant Xinjiang children in April 2011, promising to bring them home and send them to school.

Some vagrant children from Xinjiang receive government-sponsored vocational trainning.  

Some vagrant children from Xinjiang receive government-sponsored vocational trainning. 

The move was aimed at helping the children resume normal lives and restoring Xinjiang's reputation after the region had gained notoriety as a source of "young robbers and thieves" in many Chinese cities.

To date, 1,332 children have been brought home with the help of police and civil affairs authorities across the country, Xinjiang's regional government said yesterday.

It said some of the children, who were in good health and could still remember their homes, had been sent back to their hometowns for government-sponsored vocational training.

Others, who were sick or disabled, were sent to hospitals for treatment and counseling.

Living conditions of the returned children, however, are a cause for concern, according to a survey by a regional women's federation.

It found that most of the children felt detached from their parents and other caregivers, who were often too busy earning a living to show the children any affection.

About 75 percent of the children were from poverty-stricken families in rural areas who had an annual family income of less than 5,000 yuan (US$790).

Most of the returned children were also reluctant to go back to school, as they lagged too far behind their peers to catch up, the survey found.

Without adequate schooling, many older children could not secure a job.

The women's federation detailed the problems in a report sent to the regional government earlier this month and proposed government and judicial intervention in the returned children's education. Parents and custodians who refused to send the children to school should have their foster rights withdrawn, the report said.

Xinjiang has spent 50 million yuan on a training center and shelter and has also called on non-governmental organizations and volunteers to help with donations, training programs and job opportunities.

It is unclear how many children from Xinjiang are roaming China, but according to the regional government's relief office, about 3,000 are sent back to Xinjiang every year.

A report by the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences said at least 90 percent were kidnap victims from areas where child trafficking is rampant.

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